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VOL. 129 | NO. 142 | Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Survey: Graduates Should Return to Memphis After School

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Measuring economic sentiment among consumers at any given moment in time involves looking at specific data points and how consumers feel about those sets of numbers and facts.


That’s a key element of the Memphis Economic Indicator, a quarterly survey measuring general business and economic sentiment produced jointly by The Daily News and Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP that’s now one year old.

The survey gives participants a set of business conditions to consider for the coming quarter, looking at whether they expect their businesses to add staff, increase revenue, widen profit margins, see expenses rise and whether they think the overall economic position of both their company and Memphis as a whole will improve. Answers to those questions are given according to a basic scale, and there’s also an open-ended question about the economy for participants to answer.

What that open-ended question revealed this time around is that, while the data portion of the confidence-measuring survey appears relatively unchanged from this time a year ago, many participants were largely positive when asked if they thought recent college graduates should stay in or return to Memphis.

Anna Laura Hatchett, business manager for Metro 67 Apartments Downtown, for example, thinks Memphis has abundant opportunities for graduates, depending on the professional field they’ve chosen.

Memphis Economic Indicator results, 3rd quarter 2014

“With cost of living being so good and the potential for graduates to start out with a decent salary, then Memphis would definitely be the way to go over any large city with high living costs," she said.

Likewise, Carlisle Corp. vice president of finance Paul Volpe agreed that graduates should come back to the Bluff City after they’ve finished school. To the extent those grads can find employment here, he said, Memphis has a cost of living that’s tough to beat, plus generally good traffic and friendly people.

That notion about the low cost of living compared to other cities was a common thread in the answers among many of the survey participants, including for Ben Fant, principal at the Farmhouse creative design firm.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for well-educated, ambitious, creative workers, and the cost of living is a fraction of other metropolitan areas,” he said.

Anne-Marie Harrell of the Memphis College of Art added that she thinks graduates will make themselves more valuable and boost their income potential by going away to a large city, then bringing that experience back to Memphis.

The positive sentiment, meanwhile, stands somewhat in contrast to the fact that not much has changed over the past year in the more data-specific points that survey participants shared this time around. The exception was that respondents employed by smaller firms showed increasing confidence in all aspects of the Memphis Economic Indicator, in contrast to their responses at this point last year.

The full results of the survey are available at memphiseconomicindicator.com.

Rounding out the latest snapshot of the local economy, The Daily News’ sister company Chandler Reports also has compiled a snapshot of a variety of metrics that present something of a mixed economic picture.

In the just-ended second quarter, for example, Shelby County recorded 4,189 home sales, down about 1 percent from the 4,225 homes sold in the second quarter of 2013.

Also according to Chandler Reports, local banks and mortgage lenders made 2,304 purchase mortgages during the second quarter, up 3.2 percent from the 2,233 mortgages during second quarter 2013. And builders filed 245 permits in Shelby County in the second quarter, down 16.6 percent from the 294 permits in second quarter 2013.

PROPERTY SALES 103 137 4,008
MORTGAGES 84 131 4,521
BUILDING PERMITS 178 368 9,636
BANKRUPTCIES 50 110 2,995