Brookings Institution’s Metro Monitor is a set of objective metrics aimed at guiding the efforts of leaders to advance regional economies.  It tracks the economic performance of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas on growth, prosperity, and inclusion.

Brookings said: “These represent the pillars of successful economic development which should encourage robust long-run growth (growth) by improving the productivity of individuals and firms in order to raise local standards of living (prosperity) for all people (inclusion).”

Its 2017 report, in almost every indicator, paints the portrait of a lethargic regional economy, the squandering of human capital, inert wage growth, and losing ground in the race for economic success.  Metro Monitor’s indicators also concluded that the Memphis metro is underperforming when actual jobs growth is compared to expected jobs growth based on industrial structure.

This report is but the latest reason for a call to arms, and as Pogo said, we have met the enemy and it is us.

Here’s how the Memphis metropolitan area stacks up in the ranking of 100 largest regions:

2010 – 2015

#85 – Growth

#81 – Prosperity

#50 – Inclusion

2005 – 2015

#78 – Growth

#75 – Prosperity

#52 – Inclusion


Growth indicators measure change in the size of a metropolitan area economy and its level of entrepreneurial activity. Growth and entrepreneurship create new opportunities for individuals and can help a metropolitan economy become more efficient. The Metro Monitor measures growth in gross metropolitan product, number of jobs, and number of jobs at young firms. 

Between 2010 and 2015, Memphis MSA jobs increased +5.8% (#75); the gross metropolitan product increased +2.8% (#84); and jobs at young firms declined -4.5% (#70).

The difference between the actual jobs growth and the expected jobs growth, which indicates whether the metro is overperforming or underperforming, was -3.7%.   For the period between 2005 and 2015, the difference was -5.8%.


Prosperity captures changes in the average wealth and income produced by an economy. When a metropolitan area grows by increasing the productivity of its workers, through innovation or by upgrading workers’ skills, for example, the value of those workers’ labor rises. As the value of labor rises, so can wages. Increases in productivity and wages are what ultimately improve living standards for workers and families and the competitiveness of metropolitan economies.

Memphis ranks 81st in overall prosperity between 2010-2015. 

Productivity was -2.8% (#78), standard of living +1.5% (#73), and average annual wage +1.7% (#85).


Inclusion indicators measure how the benefits of growth and prosperity in a metropolitan economy—specifically, changes in employment and income—are distributed among individuals. Inclusive growth enables more people to invest in their skills and to purchase more goods and services. Thus, inclusive growth can increase human capital and raise aggregate demand, boosting prosperity and growth. Ensuring that all people can contribute to and benefit from growth and prosperity also helps sustain widespread support for the policies on which growth and prosperity depend.  Memphis is #50 in inclusion for 2010-2015.

The employment rate increased 4.3% (#49); median wage declined -3.6% (#83), and relative poverty declined -6.1% (#28)

Median Wage

The percent change in median wage by race and education:

+1.8% – White
-9.4% – Black
+17.5% – Hispanic
-6.9% – Asian
+50.3% – Other

0.0% – High School
-7.6% – Some college or AA
-6.9% – BA or above

Relative Poverty

-12.2% – White
+0.5% – Black
-25.9% – Hispanic
-2.3% – Asian
-35.6% – Other

-6.3% – High school
-3.6% – Some college of AA
+1.2% – BA or above


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