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Dallas and Houston Won the Recession. But Will We Ever Overtake New York and Los Angeles?

The Atlantic made itself a bar graph showing that between 2009 and 2012 (years of economic recovery from the Great Recession), Dallas and our often-moist neighbors to the south outpaced the rest of the 10 biggest metropolitan areas in the United States in terms of GDP growth. DFW’s economy grew 19.1% while Houston’s gain was even larger.

But our region still has just the 7th-largest GDP, $420 billion in 2012. New York is far ahead of everybody else, at almost $1.4 trillion, but Los Angeles, Baltimore-Washington, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Houston also beat us. When will we move up the rankings?

Fortunately, economic conditions rarely change from year to year and a region’s growth rate can be relied upon to remain constant for decades. It’s a fact.** That allows us to extrapolate from today’s rates to determine precisely how long it’ll take us to run down every other major city in the country until our economic hegemony is unrivaled. Here’s what my calculations show:

In 2032, Dallas-Fort Worth will pass weakening Chicago and move up to 6th on the list with a little more than $1 trillion in GDP.

In 2036, we’ll beat out Baltimore-DC and Los Angeles, reaching 4th place with about $1.2 trillion.

In 2060, the Bay Area will fall behind, and we’ll sit at 3rd with $3.4 trillion.

In 2080, we will finally put those New Yorkers in their place, claiming the No. 2 spot with $8.2 trillion.

In 2084, our long-simmering cold war with Houston will boil over into full-on armed conflict, resulting in Ross Perot Sr. (having had his cryogenically stored head reanimated and installed atop a robotic body in 2043) sending in a strike team to take out the Wendy Davis Levee System, completely submerging the Bayou City. Unable to adapt to an underwater economy, Houston’s GDP ranking will plummet. Dallas will, at last, rule.


**Not a fact.