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The Changing Face of Poverty Across Dallas

Each dot represents 20 people living in poverty.
Each dot represents 20 people living in poverty.

Recently the Urban Institute created a mapping tool to show how pockets of poverty across the country have changed and expanded over the last 30 years. Using Census data, they placed dots on the map for every 20 people with incomes below the poverty line. Whites are represented in blue, blacks are yellow, Hispanics green, and Asians red.

When looking at Dallas (see screenshot images above), the two most noticeable changes from 1980 to 2010 are 1) How much more green there is on the map and 2) How the pockets of poverty are less concentrated in the city itself and have spread into the suburbs. (Chicago magazine noticed a similar expansion in their city.)

So, yeah, obviously there’s more Hispanic poverty because there are so many more Hispanics in North Texas than in 1980. And there are many more people, period, living in the suburbs of Dallas-Fort Worth than there were 30 years ago, so it stands to reason there’d be much more poverty out in the hinterlands too.

But it doesn’t matter that you’re not surprised by either of those facts. What matters is that this map brings into focus one downside of the population boom that’s benefited our region over the last few decades. More people means more poverty, and it means that poverty isn’t just a challenge for the inner-city anymore. Places like Richardson and Irving and Arlington are having to contend with that reality too.

Any solutions we devise for lifting people out of these conditions must confront the wider-spread nature of the problem.


Use the embedded tool below to explore the data for yourself.

(H/T The Atlantic Cities)