October 2, 2020 - To build an understanding of the current market trends that are impacting the Memphis Metro area, the Chamber has been releasing monthly updates to our economic recovery.

To best gauge and position insights related to market activity, we are looking at the region through two lenses. The first is through the lens of traditional monthly indicators. These measures include the lower frequency jobs and unemployment figures and are often seen as lagging indicators of labor market activity. The second lens is through higher frequency weekly indicators. These measures include weekly unemployment insurance claims and job postings. Often, the higher frequency indicators are seen as leading indicators and can signal worsening or better employment outcomes for the region against the monthly reports.

With the release of the August 2020 unemployment numbers on September 30, these updates will provide a key snapshot of where the Memphis market sits as it relates to a recovery from the March/April 2020 contraction.

The Greater Memphis Chamber develops insights that help stakeholders ask the right questions to issues impacting our region’s economic competitiveness. To understand the impact of COVID in the current economic environment, the team analyzes data using a combination of sources such as the Bureau of Labor and Statistics as well as cutting-edge tools such as Burning Glass Labor Insights and EMSI, the Chamber aims to provide stakeholders with information that can help drive prosperity for all in the region.


Download the Latest Memphis Market Overview

Indicators to Watch

Key insights from this report:
  • Monthly Indicators, [lower frequency, lagging indicators]

    • August 2020, the unemployment rate in the Greater Memphis MSA fell 1.4 seasonally adjusted points to 11.9%. While positive, the market remains higher than both the State of Tennessee and the Nation at 8.5% and 8.4%, respectively. Shelby County holds the highest unemployment rate in the State of Tennessee, with an August 2020 rate of 13.4%. The next release for (September 2020) metropolitan employment estimates will be October 28, 2020.

    • With over 75,000 individuals unemployed in the metro area (August 2020), displaced workforce should leverage transferable skills, discoverable through the SkillsMatch and the Resume Optimizer applications, found on the Chamber’s website. Leveraging transferable skills will allow for the development of competitive language and positioning in a sector that is currently hiring.

    • Non-farm payrolls (jobs) in the Memphis metropolitan area increased by a seasonally adjusted 4,700 in August 2020, a month-over-month increase of 0.8%. The net increase in month-over-month jobs was primarily realized through Government and Professional/Business Services, which collectively added 8,800 jobs in August.


  • Weekly Indicators, [higher frequency, leading indicators]

    • Continued claims rose through the month of July, adding upward pressure to the unemployment situation. However, since the July 25th end of the federal UI supplemental payment program, initial and continued unemployment insurance claims have decreased significantly. This has been reflected within the August 2020 unemployment numbers. Assuming individuals have gone back to work directly, adjustments should continue to be illustrated in the lower frequency, monthly unemployment numbers.

    • Online job postings, a proxy for employer demand have stabilized against historical levels. This is reassuring, as employers rebound and stabilize against new workplace dynamics. While indicative of demand, jobseekers should leverage skills for in-demand occupations within new industries.

    • While the Greater Memphis market has seen a rise in July 2020 unemployment rate, many employers have ramped up in hiring. This ramp-up suggests that a shift in workforce requirements is being realized and will remain as industries stabilize in the near-term.

Download the Latest Memphis Market Overview

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