Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

News Release Information

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Contacts Technical information: Media contact:
  • (404) 893-4220

Occupational Employment and Wages in Memphis — May 2021

Workers in the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $23.71 in May 2021, about 15 percent below the nationwide average of $28.01, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. 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.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, Memphis area employment was more highly concentrated in 5 of the 22 occupational groups, including transportation and material moving, protective service, and healthcare practitioners and technical. Sixteen groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations, computer and mathematical, and healthcare support. (See table A.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Memphis metropolitan area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2021
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 $28.01 $23.71* -15


6.3 6.0* 59.31 53.37* -10

Business and financial operations

6.4 4.3* 39.72 32.44* -18

Computer and mathematical

3.3 1.7* 48.01 35.57* -26

Architecture and engineering

1.7 1.0* 44.10 39.56* -10

Life, physical, and social science

0.9 0.7* 38.81 38.86 0

Community and social service

1.6 1.3* 25.94 23.89* -8


0.8 0.5* 54.38 40.27* -26

Educational instruction and library

5.8 5.0* 29.88 25.81* -14

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 0.8* 31.78 23.34* -27

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.2 7.0* 43.80 37.32* -15

Healthcare support

4.7 3.2* 16.02 14.80* -8

Protective service

2.4 3.3* 25.68 20.83* -19

Food preparation and serving related

8.0 7.7* 14.16 11.85* -16

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

2.9 2.8* 16.23 13.92* -14

Personal care and service

1.8 1.6* 16.17 14.28* -12

Sales and related

9.4 8.6* 22.15 19.47* -12

Office and administrative support

13.0 13.5* 20.88 19.50* -7

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 16.70 17.24 3

Construction and extraction

4.2 3.0* 26.87 22.15* -18

Installation, maintenance, and repair

4.0 4.4* 25.66 24.95* -3


6.0 6.1 20.71 19.24* -7

Transportation and material moving

9.0 17.4* 19.88 19.06* -4

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area is above the national mean wage, while a negative difference reflects a lower wage.
* The mean hourly wage or percent share of employment 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 105,400 jobs in transportation and material moving, accounting for 17.4 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 9.0-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $19.06, significantly below the national wage of $19.88.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the transportation and material moving group included hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers (30,240); stockers and order fillers (16,180); heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (14,850); and light truck drivers (11,710). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were transportation inspectors and aircraft cargo handling supervisors, with mean hourly wages of $42.20 and $32.17, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were parking attendants ($13.22) and ambulance drivers and attendants, except emergency medical technicians ($13.34). (Detailed data for the transportation and material moving occupations 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 area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the transportation and material moving group. For instance, airfield operations specialists were employed at 11.6 times the national rate in Memphis, and aircraft service attendants, at 9.1 times the U.S. average. Cleaners of vehicles and equipment had a location quotient of 1.0 in Memphis, indicating that this particular occupation’s local and national employment shares were similar.

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

Changes to the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) Data

With the May 2021 estimates release, the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program has implemented a new model-based (MB3) estimation method. For more information, see the May 2021 Survey Methods and Reliability Statement at and the Monthly Labor Review article at OEWS estimates for the years 2015-19 were recalculated using the new estimation method and are available as research estimates at

The May 2021 OEWS estimates are also the first estimates based entirely on survey data collected using the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. To improve data quality, the OEWS program aggregates some occupations to the SOC broad occupation level or as OEWS-specific combinations of 2018 SOC detailed occupations.

Technical Note

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey is a semiannual survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. The OEWS data available from BLS include cross-industry occupational employment and wage estimates for the nation; over 580 areas, including states and the District of Columbia, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), nonmetropolitan areas, and territories; national industry-specific estimates at the NAICS sector, 3-digit, most 4-digit, and selected 5- and 6-digit industry levels, and national estimates by ownership across all industries and for schools and hospitals. OEWS data are available at

The OEWS survey is a cooperative effort between BLS and the State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). BLS funds the survey and provides the procedures and technical support, while the State Workforce Agencies collect most of the data. OEWS estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.1 million establishments. Each year, two semiannual panels of approximately 179,000 to 187,000 sampled establishments are contacted, one panel in May and the other in November. Responses are obtained by Internet or other electronic means, mail, email, telephone, or personal visit. The May 2021 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2021, November 2020, May 2020, November 2019, May 2019, and November 2018. The unweighted sampled employment of 82 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 62 percent of total national employment. The overall national response rate for the six panels, based on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is 67.2 percent based on establishments and 64.5 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area included 4,574 establishments with a response rate of 66 percent. For more information about OEWS concepts and methodology, go to

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.

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, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Crittenden County, AR; Benton County, MS; DeSoto County, MS; Marshall County, MS; Tate County, MS; Tunica County, MS; Fayette County, TN; Shelby County, TN; and Tipton County, TN.

For more information

Answers to frequently asked questions about the OEWS data are available at Detailed information about the OEWS program is available at

Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Telecommunications Relay Service: 7-1-1.

Table 1. Employment and wage data for transportation and material moving occupations, Memphis metropolitan area, May 2021
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Transportation and material moving occupations

105,400 1.9 $19.06 $39,640

Aircraft cargo handling supervisors

30 0.9 32.17 66,910

First-line supervisors of transportation and material moving workers, except aircraft cargo handling supervisors

5,600 2.4 29.81 62,000

Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers

60 0.2 (6) 98,810

Commercial pilots

90 0.5 (6) 99,620

Airfield operations specialists

630 11.6 23.59 49,070

Ambulance drivers and attendants, except emergency medical technicians

260 5.2 13.34 27,750

Driver/sales workers

1,780 0.9 13.59 28,260

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers

14,850 1.8 25.75 53,550

Light truck drivers

11,710 2.7 22.87 47,560

Bus drivers, school

810 0.5 13.53 28,150

Bus drivers, transit and intercity

390 0.6 20.62 42,880

Shuttle drivers and chauffeurs

660 0.9 15.66 32,570

Motor vehicle operators, all other

380 1.8 16.87 35,090

Sailors and marine oilers

70 0.7 (5) (5)

Parking attendants

260 0.7 13.22 27,500

Automotive and watercraft service attendants

620 1.3 13.92 28,950

Aircraft service attendants

480 9.1 24.15 50,240

Traffic technicians

60 1.8 23.54 48,960

Transportation inspectors

100 0.9 42.20 87,770

Transportation workers, all other

70 1.2 17.08 35,530

Conveyor operators and tenders

(5) (5) 15.59 32,430

Crane and tower operators

150 0.8 25.29 52,610

Industrial truck and tractor operators

6,940 2.1 17.61 36,620

Cleaners of vehicles and equipment

1,500 1.0 14.24 29,630

Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand

30,240 2.6 15.82 32,900

Machine feeders and offbearers

430 1.6 18.45 38,370

Packers and packagers, hand

7,300 2.9 13.81 28,730

Stockers and order fillers

16,180 1.5 15.51 32,270

Refuse and recyclable material collectors

650 1.2 16.57 34,470

Tank car, truck, and ship loaders

120 2.2 23.80 49,490

Material moving workers, all other

230 2.4 14.74 30,670

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area, see
(2) Estimates for detailed occupations may not sum to the totals due to rounding, and because the totals may include occupations that are 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.
(6) Wages for some occupations that do not generally work year-round, full time, are reported either as hourly wages or annual salaries depending on how they are typically paid.


Last Modified Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2022