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Wednesday, June 07, 2017


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Occupational Employment and Wages in Memphis – May 2016

Workers in the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $20.64 in May 2016, about 13 percent below the nationwide average of $23.86, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were lower than their respective national averages in 20 of the 22 major occupational groups including, computer and mathematical; construction and extraction; and management. One group—farming, fishing, and forestry—had a significantly higher wage than its respective national average.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 5 of the 22 occupational groups, including transportation and material moving; healthcare practitioners and technical; and office and administrative support. Conversely, 14 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations; computer and mathematical; and education, training, and library. (See table A and box note at end of release.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2016
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Memphis United States Memphis Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0 100.0 $23.86 $20.64* -13


5.1 5.5* 56.74 46.85* -17

Business and financial operations

5.2 3.7* 36.09 30.77* -15

Computer and mathematical

3.0 1.5* 42.25 33.57* -21

Architecture and engineering

1.8 0.9* 40.53 34.39* -15

Life, physical, and social science

0.8 0.5* 35.06 30.85* -12

Community and social service

1.4 1.0* 22.69 20.38* -10


0.8 0.5* 50.95 44.97* -12

Education, training, and library

6.2 4.9* 26.21 24.86 -5

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.4 0.7* 28.07 22.32* -20

Healthcare practitioners and technical

5.9 6.8* 38.06 35.66* -6

Healthcare support

2.9 2.4* 14.65 13.59* -7

Protective service

2.4 3.2* 22.03 18.25* -17

Food preparation and serving related

9.2 8.3* 11.47 9.82* -14

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.2 2.9 13.47 12.10* -10

Personal care and service

3.2 2.8* 12.74 11.27* -12

Sales and related

10.4 9.7* 19.50 17.79* -9

Office and administrative support

15.7 16.4* 17.91 17.04* -5

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 13.37 14.17* 6

Construction and extraction

4.0 3.2* 23.51 19.16* -19

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 3.9 22.45 21.26* -5


6.5 6.4 17.88 16.25* -9

Transportation and material moving

6.9 14.7* 17.34 15.82* -9

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area is above the national mean wage, while a negative difference reflects a lower wage.
* The percent share of employment or mean hourly wage for this area is significantly different from the national average of all areas at the 90-percent confidence level.

One occupational group—transportation and material moving—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Memphis had 91,560 jobs in transportation and material moving, accounting for 14.7 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 6.9-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $15.82, significantly below the national wage of $17.34.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the transportation and material moving group included laborers and freight, stock, and hand material movers (42,080), heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (14,420), and industrial truck and tractor operators (5,840). Among the higher paying jobs were first-line supervisors of transportation and material-moving machine and vehicle operators, and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, with mean hourly wages of $29.05 and $20.87, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were parking lot attendants ($9.51) and school or special client bus drivers ($12.42). (Detailed occupational data for transportation and material moving are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available go to

Location quotients allow us to explore the occupational make-up of a metropolitan area by comparing the composition of jobs in an area relative to the national average. (See table 1.) For example, a location quotient of 2.0 indicates that an occupation accounts for twice the share of employment in the area than it does nationally. In the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the transportation and material moving group. For instance, laborers and freight, stock, and hand material movers were employed at 3.7 times the national rate in Memphis, and first-line supervisors of helpers, laborers, and hand material movers, at 3.5 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, automotive and watercraft service attendants had a location quotient of 0.9 in Memphis, indicating that this particular occupation’s local and national employment shares were similar.

These statistics are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, a federal-state cooperative program between BLS and State Workforce Agencies, in this case, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

Note on Occupational Employment Statistics Data

A value that is statistically different from another does not necessarily mean that the difference has economic or practical significance. Statistical significance is concerned with the ability to make confident statements about a universe based on a sample. It is entirely possible that a large difference between two values is not significantly different statistically, while a small difference is, since both the size and heterogeneity of the sample affect the relative error of the data being tested.

Technical Note

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey is a semiannual mail survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. The OES data available from BLS include cross-industry occupational employment and wage estimates for the nation; over 650 areas, including states and the District of Columbia, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), metropolitan divisions, nonmetropolitan areas, and territories; national industry-specific estimates at the NAICS sector, 3-, 4-, and selected 5- and 6-digit industry levels, and national estimates by ownership across all industries and for schools and hospitals. OES data are available at

OES estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.2 million establishments. Each year, two semiannual panels of approximately 200,000 sampled establishments are contacted, one panel in May and the other in November. Responses are obtained by mail, Internet or other electronic means, email, telephone, or personal visit. The May 2016 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2016, November 2015, May 2015, November 2014, May 2014, and November 2013. The overall national response rate for the six panels, based on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is 73 percent based on establishments and 69 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The unweighted employment of sampled establishments across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 58 percent of total national employment. The sample in the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area included 4,619 establishments with a response rate of 74 percent. For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to

The May 2016 OES estimates are based on the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system and the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Information about the 2010 SOC is available on the BLS website at and information about the 2012 NAICS is available at

Metropolitan area definitions

The substate area data published in this release reflect the standards and definitions established by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

The Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark. Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Benton, DeSoto, Marshall, Tate, and Tunica Counties in Mississippi; Crittenden County in Arkansas; Fayette, Shelby, and Tipton Counties in Tennessee.

Additional information

OES data are available on our regional web page at Answers to frequently asked questions about the OES data are available at Detailed technical information about the OES survey is available in our Survey Methods and Reliability Statement on the BLS website at

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request . Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

Table 1. Employment and wage data from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey, by occupation, Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area, May 2016
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Transportation and material moving occupations

91,560 2.1 $15.82 $32,910

Aircraft cargo handling supervisors

(5) (5) 19.24 40,020

First-line supervisors of helpers, laborers, and material movers, hand

2,840 3.5 25.62 53,290

First-line supervisors of transportation and material-moving machine and vehicle operators

1,640 1.8 29.05 60,430

Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers

90 0.2 (5) 73,190

Commercial pilots

110 0.7 (5) (5)

Ambulance drivers and attendants, except emergency medical technicians

90 1.2 10.01 20,820

Bus drivers, transit and intercity

470 0.6 19.37 40,280

Bus drivers, school or special client

3,510 1.5 12.42 25,840

Driver/sales workers

2,270 1.2 14.16 29,450

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers

14,420 1.9 20.87 43,410

Light truck or delivery services drivers

4,950 1.3 17.51 36,420

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

960 1.1 10.90 22,680

Motor vehicle operators, all other

190 0.8 15.28 31,780

Sailors and marine oilers

330 2.3 15.94 33,150

Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels

260 1.6 18.44 38,360

Parking lot attendants

330 0.5 9.51 19,790

Automotive and watercraft service attendants

450 0.9 12.36 25,700

Transportation inspectors

70 0.6 45.17 93,960

Transportation workers, all other

200 1.2 14.77 30,710

Conveyor operators and tenders

720 5.7 16.26 33,820

Crane and tower operators

100 0.5 23.29 48,450

Excavating and loading machine and dragline operators

290 1.4 16.89 35,130

Industrial truck and tractor operators

5,840 2.4 14.06 29,240

Cleaners of vehicles and equipment

1,570 1.0 11.67 24,270

Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand

42,080 3.7 13.26 27,570

Machine feeders and offbearers

(5) (5) 11.80 24,540

Packers and packagers, hand

4,900 1.6 11.15 23,200

Refuse and recyclable material collectors

380 0.7 15.24 31,690

Tank car, truck, and ship loaders

290 5.9 18.89 39,290

Material moving workers, all other

290 2.7 11.75 24,430

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area, see
(2) Estimates for detailed occupations do not sum to the totals because the totals include occupations not shown separately. Estimates do not include self-employed workers.
(3) The location quotient is the ratio of the area concentration of occupational employment to the national average concentration. A location quotient greater than one indicates the occupation has a higher share of employment than average, and a location quotient less than one indicates the occupation is less prevalent in the area than average.
(4) Annual wages have been calculated by multiplying the hourly mean wage by a "year-round, full-time" hours figure of 2,080 hours; for those occupations where there is not an hourly mean wage published, the annual wage has been directly calculated from the reported survey data.
(5) Estimate not released.


Last Modified Date: Wednesday, June 07, 2017