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July 15, 2014


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Occupational Employment and Wages in Memphis, May 2013

Workers in the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $19.82 in May 2013, 11 percent below the nationwide average of $22.33, 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 significantly lower than their respective national averages in 20 of the 22 major occupational groups, including construction and extraction, management, and business and financial operations.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 4 of the 22 occupational groups, including transportation and material moving, and healthcare practitioners and technical. Conversely, 13 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations, computer and mathematical, and food preparation and serving related. (See table A and box note at end of release.)

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 82,110 jobs in transportation and material moving, accounting for 13.9 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 6.8-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $15.57, measurably below the national wage of $16.28.

With employment of 32,990, hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers was the largest occupation within the transportation and material moving group, followed by heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (12,730) and hand packers and packagers (5,700). 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 $27.16 and $20.54, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were cleaners of vehicles and equipment ($10.31) and taxi drivers and chauffeurs ($10.86). (Detailed occupational data for transportation and material moving are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available go to

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2013
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% $22.33 $19.82* -11


4.9 5.3* 53.15 45.19* -15

Business and financial operations

5.0 3.5* 34.14 30.06* -12

Computer and mathematical

2.8 1.6* 39.43 34.79* -12

Architecture and engineering

1.8 1.3* 38.51 35.57* -8

Life, physical, and social science

0.9 0.5* 33.37 29.79* -11

Community and social services

1.4 0.9* 21.50 20.50* -5


0.8 0.5* 47.89 39.50* -18

Education, training, and library

6.3 5.7* 24.76 22.62* -9

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 0.8* 26.72 21.68* -19

Healthcare practitioner and technical

5.8 6.4* 35.93 33.04* -8

Healthcare support

3.0 2.6* 13.61 12.60* -7

Protective service

2.5 3.3* 20.92 16.80* -20

Food preparation and serving related

9.0 8.2* 10.38 9.29* -11

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.2 3.4 12.51 11.45* -8

Personal care and service

3.0 2.8 11.88 10.86* -9

Sales and related

10.6 10.0* 18.37 18.13 -1

Office and administrative support

16.2 16.3 16.78 16.05* -4

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 11.70 12.48* 7

Construction and extraction

3.8 2.7* 21.94 17.96* -18

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 4.0 21.35 20.52* -4


6.6 6.3 16.79 15.85* -6

Transportation and material moving

6.8 13.9* 16.28 15.57* -4

1 A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in Memphis 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.

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, hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers were employed at 3.2 times the national rate in Memphis, and industrial truck and tractor operations at 2.5 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, machine feeders and offbearers had a location quotient of 1.1 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.

OES wage and employment data for the 22 major occupational groups in the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area were compared to their respective national averages based on statistical significance testing. Only those occupations with wages or employment shares above or below the national wage or share after testing for significance at the 90-percent confidence level meet the criteria.

NOTE: 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. Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands are also surveyed, but their data are not included in the national estimates. OES estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.2 million establishments. Forms are mailed to approximately 200,000 sampled establishments in May and November each year for a 3-year period. May 2013 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected in May 2013, November 2012, May 2012, November 2011, May 2011, and November 2010. The overall national response rate for the six panels is 75.3 percent based on establishments and 71.6 percent based on employment. The sample in the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area included 4,654 establishments with a response rate of 77 percent. For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to

The OES survey provides estimates of employment and hourly and annual wages for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups and 821 detailed occupations for the nation, states, metropolitan statistical areas, metropolitan divisions, and nonmetropolitan areas. In addition, employment and wage estimates for 94 minor groups and 458 broad occupations are available in the national data. OES data by state and metropolitan/nonmetropolitan area are available from and, respectively.

The May 2013 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

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. Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Crittenden County, Arkansas; DeSoto, Marshall, Tate, and Tunica Counties of Mississippi, and Fayette, Shelby, and Tipton Counties of 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 2013
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Transportation and Material Moving Occupations

82,110 2.1 $15.57 $32,390

First-Line Supervisors of Helpers, Laborers, and Material Movers, Hand

2,310 3.1 23.95 49,820

First-Line Supervisors of Transportation and Material-Moving Machine and Vehicle Operators

1,300 1.5 27.16 56,500

Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

520 1.6 (5) 109,060

Commercial Pilots

70 0.4 (5) 69,510

Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians

110 1.4 10.59 22,030

Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity

930 1.3 16.64 34,610

Bus Drivers, School or Special Client

2,250 1.0 (5) (5)

Driver/Sales Workers

1,380 0.8 11.42 23,750

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers

12,730 1.8 20.54 42,720

Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers

5,620 1.6 17.59 36,600

Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs

650 0.9 10.86 22,580

Motor Vehicle Operators, All Other

170 0.6 14.40 29,950

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators

40 0.4 17.43 36,260

Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters

30 0.2 17.67 36,760

Sailors and Marine Oilers

260 2.1 17.55 36,500

Captains, Mates, and Pilots of Water Vessels

390 2.9 48.37 100,610

Ship Engineers

100 2.3 29.08 60,490

Parking Lot Attendants

320 0.5 8.95 18,610

Automotive and Watercraft Service Attendants

390 0.8 10.98 22,850

Traffic Technicians

50 1.8 19.69 40,950

Transportation Inspectors

210 2.0 26.96 56,070

Transportation Workers, All Other

200 1.1 17.81 37,040

Crane and Tower Operators

250 1.4 20.14 41,890

Excavating and Loading Machine and Dragline Operators

220 1.1 16.69 34,720

Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators

5,600 2.5 13.62 28,330

Cleaners of Vehicles and Equipment

1,310 1.0 10.31 21,440

Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand

32,990 3.2 12.50 26,010

Machine Feeders and Offbearers

540 1.1 15.66 32,580

Packers and Packagers, Hand

5,700 1.9 9.86 20,500

Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors

380 0.7 13.87 28,850

Tank Car, Truck, and Ship Loaders

80 1.4 15.35 31,930

Material Moving Workers, All Other

170 1.6 10.42 21,670

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in Memphis, 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: Tuesday, July 15, 2014