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News Release Information

Friday, June 21, 2019

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

Occupational Employment and Wages in Memphis — May 2018

Workers in the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $21.45 in May 2018, about 14 percent below the nationwide average of $24.98, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that, after testing for statistical significance, 20 of the 22 major occupational groups had average wages in the local area that were significantly lower than their respective national averages, including computer and mathematical; legal; and construction and extraction.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 5 of the 22 occupational groups, including transportation and material moving; protective service; 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 construction and extraction. (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 2018
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 $24.98 $21.45* -14


5.3 5.6* 58.44 48.47* -17

Business and financial operations

5.3 3.9* 36.98 31.89* -14

Computer and mathematical

3.0 1.6* 44.01 34.30* -22

Architecture and engineering

1.8 1.1* 42.01 35.28* -16

Life, physical, and social science

0.8 0.5* 36.62 32.36* -12

Community and social service

1.5 1.1* 23.69 21.47* -9


0.8 0.5* 52.25 41.20* -21

Education, training, and library

6.1 5.4* 27.22 25.90 -5

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 0.8* 28.74 22.65* -21

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.0 6.4* 39.42 35.48* -10

Healthcare support

2.8 2.3* 15.57 14.61* -6

Protective service

2.4 3.4* 23.36 18.99* -19

Food preparation and serving related

9.2 8.3* 12.30 10.38* -16

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.1 2.8* 14.43 12.62* -13

Personal care and service

3.8 2.9* 13.51 11.87* -12

Sales and related

10.0 9.7 20.09 18.36* -9

Office and administrative support

15.1 15.9* 18.75 17.77* -5

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 14.49 15.50 7

Construction and extraction

4.1 3.1* 24.62 19.64* -20

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 3.9 23.54 22.23* -6


6.3 6.1 18.84 16.81* -11

Transportation and material moving

7.1 14.6* 18.41 16.75* -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 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 91,180 jobs in transportation and material moving, accounting for 14.6 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 7.1-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $16.75, significantly below the national wage of $18.41.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the transportation and material moving group included laborers and hand freight, stock, and material movers (39,840); heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (16,430); and light truck or delivery services drivers (6,660). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were transportation inspectors and first-line supervisors of transportation and material moving workers, except aircraft cargo handling supervisors, with mean hourly wages of $48.10 and $28.14, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were parking lot attendants ($10.59) and ambulance drivers and attendants, except emergency medical technicians ($10.72). (Detailed data for 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 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 hand freight, stock, and material movers were employed at 3.2 times the national rate in Memphis, and industrial truck and tractor operators, at 2.1 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, taxi drivers and chauffeurs 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 Statistics (OES) survey, a federal-state cooperative program between BLS and State Workforce Agencies, in this case, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

Area Changes to the May 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

OES continues to publish data for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas that cover the full geography of the United States. However, the level of detail available has decreased.

OES no longer publishes data for metropolitan divisions. Data for the 11 large metropolitan areas that contain divisions are now available at the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) or New England City and Town Area (NECTA) level only.

In addition, some smaller nonmetropolitan areas have been combined to form larger nonmetropolitan areas. The May 2018 OES estimates contain data for 134 nonmetropolitan areas, compared with 167 nonmetropolitan areas in the May 2017 estimates.

More information on these area changes is available at

Implementing the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System

The OES program plans to begin implementing the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system with the May 2019 estimates, to be released by early April of 2020. Because each set of OES estimates is produced by combining three years of survey data, estimates for May 2019 and May 2020 will be based on a combination of survey data collected under the 2010 SOC and data collected under the 2018 SOC, and will use a hybrid of the two classification systems. The May 2021 OES estimates, to be released by early April of 2022, will be the first set of estimates based fully on the 2018 SOC. For more information, please see

Technical Note

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey is a semiannual 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 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. OES data are available at

The OES 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. OES estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.2 million establishments. Each year, two semiannual panels of approximately 180,000 to 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 2018 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2018, November 2017, May 2017, November 2016, May 2016, and November 2015. The unweighted sample employment of 83 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 58 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 71 percent based on establishments and 68 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area included 4,531 establishments with a response rate of 72 percent. For more information about OES 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.

The May 2018 OES estimates are based on the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system and the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Information about the 2010 SOC is available on the BLS website at and information about the 2017 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, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Benton, DeSoto, Marshall, Tate, and Tunica Counties in Mississippi; Crittenden County in Arkansas; and 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 2018
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Transportation and material moving occupations

91,180 2.1 $16.75 $34,830

Aircraft cargo handling supervisors

(5) (5) 23.28 48,430

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

4,800 2.7 28.14 58,530

Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers

50 0.1 (6) 67,960

Commercial pilots

(5) (5) (6) 79,700

Ambulance drivers and attendants, except emergency medical technicians

50 0.8 10.72 22,300

Bus drivers, transit and intercity

700 0.9 17.92 37,260

Driver/sales workers

1,660 0.9 13.16 27,370

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers

16,430 2.1 22.08 45,920

Light truck or delivery services drivers

6,660 1.7 17.32 36,020

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs

930 1.0 13.21 27,480

Motor vehicle operators, all other

210 0.9 15.47 32,180

Sailors and marine oilers

310 2.3 12.54 26,090

Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels

320 2.0 19.73 41,050

Parking lot attendants

510 0.8 10.59 22,030

Automotive and watercraft service attendants

630 1.3 12.46 25,920

Traffic technicians

60 1.9 21.06 43,800

Transportation inspectors

80 0.7 48.10 100,050

Transportation workers, all other

280 1.7 17.43 36,260

Conveyor operators and tenders

210 2.1 16.73 34,790

Crane and tower operators

70 0.4 22.63 47,070

Excavating and loading machine and dragline operators

200 1.0 17.22 35,820

Industrial truck and tractor operators

5,490 2.1 16.42 34,160

Cleaners of vehicles and equipment

1,450 0.9 12.43 25,850

Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand

39,840 3.2 13.84 28,790

Machine feeders and offbearers

140 0.5 14.17 29,470

Packers and packagers, hand

5,200 1.8 12.02 25,000

Refuse and recyclable material collectors

590 1.2 16.79 34,920

Tank car, truck, and ship loaders

30 0.9 18.68 38,850

Material moving workers, all other

(5) (5) 14.33 29,810

(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.
(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: Friday, June 21, 2019