Numbers show impact of virus on Memphis businesses, workforce


(David Royer, WREG)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Seventy-two percent of Memphis businesses remain open, while more than one out of three say they had cut staff, according to a survey of COVID-19’s impact by the Greater Memphis Chamber.

Almost three out of four businesses have changed their hours and work schedules.

Of food and beverage establishments, only 39% said they’d escaped worker layoffs.

The Chamber released results from its weekly survey of business owners Thursday. The results are below:

  • 72 percent of local businesses remain open (8 percent decrease since March 20)
  • 73 percent of local businesses have experienced changes to hours and hourly work schedules
  • 50 percent of local businesses have moved employees to remote work (2 percent increase since March 20)
  • 34 percent of local companies have reduced staff.
  • Of those companies who have experienced staff reductions,
    • 52 percent have laid off fewer than 10 workers
    • 16 percent have laid off 11-30 workers
  • 38 percent of local businesses say they do not anticipate additional layoffs in the next two weeks. 40 percent say it is too early to tell if they will need to lay off additional employees over the next two weeks.
  • Of Food & Beverage establishments and Entertainment & Leisure establishments
    • 95 percent have experienced changes to hourly or hourly work schedules.
    • 39 percent have not laid off any workers.

“The public and private sector are working hand in hand to help ensure that we retain as many jobs as we can and that we connect our businesses with the resources they need to stay afloat in this challenging climate,” said Beverly Robertson, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber.

Meanwhile the state of Tennessee reports that 4,355 people in the Memphis area had filed for unemployment as of March 21.

Thousands of Tennesseans are looking for work as the coronavirus threat closes stores, restaurants and other businesses.

Unemployment claims in Tennessee spiked by more than 1,300% last week, the state’s Department of Labor reports. In the week ending March 21, the state says 39,096 initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits were filed. The week prior, the state received 2,702 new unemployment claims. 

The 12-county area around Nashville had the most unemployment claims, 16,993.


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