People with remote-friendly jobs and fewer ties to the area are considered members of the “untethered class” and the Memphis region has the smallest number of these people among the 50 largest MSAs.  In part, it indicates a lack of jobs and the kind of jobs (like tech jobs) that can be performed remotely (one in three nationally can be done remotely).  

“Untethered class” was coined by researcher Chris Salviati to describe people with a remote-friendly occupation and with other attributes that make it easier for them to move like no children in school, house renters, or unmarried.

These people skew younger and earn higher-than-average salaries.  CBRE’s analysis showed the propensity of these young, highly-educated urban workers to move increased over the last year.

The pandemic accelerated remote working and although many employers will return to their offices, the implications of a remote workforce could result in workers gravitating to cities with lower housing costs and more affordability. 

The test is whether Memphis economic development officials recognize this as an opportunity for our community and to devise a well-funded plan to determine whether our region can compete in this new world.

Here’s the number of untethered people in selected metros:

Memphis MSA: 581,000

New Orleans MSA: 600,000

Louisville MSA: 619,000

Richmond MSA: 654,000

Salt Lake City MSA: 660,000

Milwaukee MSA: 686,000

Oklahoma City MSA: 706,000

Jacksonville MSA: 732,000

Raleigh MSA: 739,000

Oklahoma City MSA: 706,000

Milwaukee MSA: 786,000

Cleveland MSA: 976,000

Indianapolis MSA: 1,000,000

Nashville MSA: 1,100,000

Kansas City MSA: 1,100,000

Pittsburgh MSA: 1,100,000

Cincinnati: 1,100,000

Austin MSA: 1,200,000

Portland MSA: 1,300,000

Charlotte MSA: 1,300,000

Baltimore MSA: 1,400,000

St. Louis MSA: 1,400,000

Denver MSA: 1,700,000

Detroit MSA: 2,000,000

Phoenix MSA: 2,300,000

Atlanta MSA: 3,000,000

Houston MSA: 3,400,000

Dallas MSA: 3,800,000

Chicago MSA: 4,700,000

  • Source: Bloomberg CityLab