MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two years after the pandemic wiped out many jobs, the Memphis metropolitan area’s total employment has recovered, according to a report from the Greater Memphis Chamber.

Employment in the greater Memphis region reached at a record-high 661,400 jobs in April 2022. That’s about 3,500 more jobs than in February 2020 just before the first cases of COVID-19 led to local shutdowns.

Memphis’ employment growth during that period exceeded peer cities including Birmingham, Louisville and Oklahoma City, the Chamber said in a release.

Construction led the way for the recovery, with a 7.59% increase in jobs since March 2020.

Leisure and hospitality jobs, the sector hardest hit by layoffs and shutdowns during the pandemic, remained about 2% short of pre-pandemic levels.

source: Greater Memphis Chamber

In March, the Chamber reported that the economy of the greater Memphis region was growing faster than the national average and outpacing other metro areas in Tennessee with the exception of Nashville.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported unemployment across the state remained at a historic low in April. The state reached its all-time low unemployment rate in March, and April’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.2%. 

Chief Economic Development Officer Ted Townsend said the Greater Memphis Chamber is thrilled to see the numbers increase. The job growth is attributed to companies willing to invest here and create jobs such as FedEx Logistics and Ford.

“We had over 33 projects that we announced totaling over 9,300 jobs and nearly seven billion capital investments and yes, Ford was in that number,” Townsend said.

However, there are still many “help wanted” signs that remain out front of many smaller businesses. Jessica Bobo, general manager at Margie’s 901 Homemade Ice Cream, is trying to find workers.

“We’ve had our sign up for three years,” she said. “It amazes me we don’t have the work industry like we did in the past.”

The Greater Chamber said it is determined to lend a hand in hopes that smaller companies can attract and retain workers. The Chamber also says the fast recovery is a pleasant surprise because it took the Memphis area about ten years to recover from the 2008 recession.