Weekly Update: New numbers on poverty, population


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Even if you’ve only subscribed to this email for a few weeks, you’ve probably heard me talk about our long-term challenges — like population loss, poverty, and violent crime. We orient everything we do around tackling those challenges.

Just yesterday, we learned of some numbers that suggest positive momentum.

The most recent Census estimates show our poverty rate at 24.6 percent — down 2.5 percentage points from the previous year’s 26.9 percent, and down 5.2 percentage points from the most recent high of 29.8 percent in 2014. Our current rate remains shameful, and reversing it is the challenge of our time — but we must also acknowledge positive momentum when we see it.

The Census also estimated our population in 2017 at 652,236. That’s down from the year prior, but only by a fraction of a fraction — about 500 fewer residents than the year before. Considering the drop was about 3,000 a year earlier, along with years in the past couple of decades where we lost about 5,000 a year when not accounting for annexation, this is a step in the right direction.

Add these numbers to the slight drop in violent crime we’ve seen this year, and it proves to me two things: 1) We’re heading in the right direction, and 2) We have much, much, much more work ahead of us.

There’s plenty more to share from this week, so let me do it as quickly as possible:

  • I send my appreciation to TN Task Force One, a first responder rescue group based with our brave men and women of Memphis Fire. They are along the East Coast right now responding to Hurricane Florence. Please keep them, as well as everyone in the storm’s path, in your prayers.
  • Our Redbirds are in town this weekend playing for the Pacific Coast League championship against Fresno. Here’s hoping Stubby Clapp and the guys pull it off again! (You can go, by the way, for just $1.)
  • We promised to unclog the promotions pipeline at the Memphis Police Department, and we continue to do just that. Last week, we promoted 32 new lieutenants and 41 new sergeants. Thanks, all, for your leadership!
  • Speaking of MPD, we are now accepting applications from high school seniors to start with our Blue Path program next June. Blue Path is our unique high school to law enforcement career pipeline that provides a great opportunity for high school graduates to begin a career with MPD while they work toward an all-expenses-paid criminal justice degree from Southwest Tennessee Community College. Learn more here.
  • Our Memphis team, led by Business Diversity & Compliance Director Joann Massey, is in Chicago this week as one of five cities completing the City Accelerator program to further improve minority business performance — joining Chicago, Milwaukee, Charlotte, and Los Angeles. We are indeed turning heads nationally with our MWBE improvements.
  • I hope you saw the news this week that I promoted Chandell Carr and Kyle Veazey to Deputy Chief Operating Officer roles. Chandell and Kyle are both big reasons why we’ve enjoyed success these past two and a half years, and I’m eager to see them grow as we continue our work.

And finally, I just wanted to share how much I enjoyed last Saturday’s Orange Mound community parade, as I do every year. (Photo below.) I’ll always be grateful for your support and encouragement as we come to work every day to make this city the Memphis we all know it can be.

Mayor at Orange Mound parade


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