Employment

  • What is this?

    We want young people who are actively seeking work to be able to find a job; to assess how they're doing on that score, we monitor the unemployment rate. We follow two age groups: 16-19 and 20-24.

  • Why does it matter?

    To build a successful life and begin a career path, our young people need access to employment opportunities so that they can begin building skills, experience, and earnings.

  • Who is responsible?

    Employment, like job growth, is driven by the private sector. City and government agencies play a supporting role through the MPLOY program; the Memphis Ambassadors Program; and the Workforce Investment Network.

  • How do we measure performance?

    We look for youth unemployment to decrease, and we compare how Memphis is doing relative to Shelby County and the U.S. as a whole. For perspective, we also examine the total unemployment rate and whether the region is adding jobs.

How do we measure employment of youth?

To keep an eye on young people's ability to find work in Memphis, we monitor the percentage of youth who want to but can't, which is the unemployment rate. We use the unemployment numbers provided by the Census Bureau's American Community Survey for youth in two age groups: 16-19 and 20-24.

What is the state of employment for youth in Memphis?

As it is in the rest of the U.S., unemployment among young people in Memphis is going up, while unemployment overall is going down. For those seeking work, youth under twenty are struggling compared to youth between twenty and twenty-four. Nearly 40 percent of 16 to 19 year olds in Memphis can't find work, while a quarter of the 20 to 24 year old cohort is unemployed.

Meanwhile, the overall unemployment rate in Memphis has dropped from its recession peak of 10.8% in January 2010 to 6.5% or less since March of this year. The number of jobs in Memphis is growing slowly year-over-year, but youth are not benefitting from the added jobs. The trend is similar across the nation; young people have not enjoyed the rebound from the recession that older adults have benefitted from.

How is the City of Memphis working to support youth employment?

We want our eligible youth to begin working and charting career paths. There are two ways in which the City helps them do that:

  1. Through summer youth employment (MPLOY), the City often gives youth in Memphis their very first opportunity to gain job experience. In the summer of 2015 2,000 youth were employed through the program, which amounts to 4.2% of the city's youth age 15-19.
  2. Our governmental partners in the Workfest Investment Network (WIN) connect people with the skills they need to obtain a job, such as certificates, hard and soft job training, and job readiness skill-building.

A person's education also impacts their employability, so the City supports initiatives to strengthen the school-to-career pipeline in the Memphis region. The MEMFacts dashboard page on Educational Attainment explores those initiatives in detail for those who wish to learn more.

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