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Dallas Keeps Exporting Jobs to the Suburbs

You don't want to be, like Dallas, in the bottom left corner.
You don’t want to be, like Dallas, in the bottom left corner.

You’re wondering about the chart above. I didn’t create it. That was our old pal Patrick Kennedy, and yes, we may have mentioned him before.

You can skip right over to Kennedy’s blog if you want the detailed explanation of how he put this thing together, but if you stick with me I’ll just give you the most easily digestible bits. Beginning with this:

Dallas County, the most populous county in the fourth-most populous metropolitan region in the United States—a metropolitan region that saw population growth of 1.2 million people between 2001 and 2011—is losing jobs.

Maybe you already knew that Dallas County dropped 266,00o in that 10-year period. What you probably didn’t know is how that compares to the country’s other most populous counties. Short answer: Poorly. Longer answer:

As I’ve pointed out before, all of the other DFW area counties experienced job growth (as well as huge population growth).  The area gained 1.2 million people during this period, but Dallas County lost a near Detroit level of jobs.  Meanwhile, the suburban counties (who the cities compete with more than other cities, it’s worth noting) gained huge amounts of job numbers.  Parker County went up 62.33%.  Rockwall went up 70.63%.  Denton up 47.07%.  And last, but certainly not least Collin County (where Toyota is relocating to) gained 46.68%.

In terms of wages, Dallas County grew by 1.63%, which is at least upward.  However, it’s still well below the national average, even further below the urbanized county average, and ranks 6th to last of all urbanized counties in wage growth.  This is why I interpret the above chart to showDallas County as the 2nd worst performing urbanized county in the U.S. with Jackson County (KC) close behind.  DeKalb is up there too (lost 22.17% of jobs but gained 2.38% in wages), but as it only represents half of ATL, Fulton County’s positive performance ameliorates the bad.  Overall, Fulton/DeKalb gained significantly in average wages (7.32%).

Let’s revisit that list:  Detroit, Dallas, Kansas City, and (half of) Atlanta.  Those are all areas with extremely high highway lane miles per capita.  Coincidence?  I think not.

So, yes, this is another post about how highways have hurt Dallas. This might not concern you, if you figure that Dallas’ demise merely opens the door for Frisco to continue its epic rise to becoming one of the world’s great cities.

21 comments on “Dallas Keeps Exporting Jobs to the Suburbs

  1. This is the very definition of myopic. What are the cited reasons for moving to Plano by Toyota? They include cheap homes and a low cost of living. What is probably a key reason that wasn’t expressly stated, that the cheap homes go hand in hand with with good schools. If you want the Toyota’s of the world downtown, focus on DISD for starters, not I-345. Of course, that would less effectively line the pockets of affected developers.

  2. Not so coincidentally, all of those cities have large numbers of people on welfare. Arguably, there are also lots of haves and have nots.

  3. This is the very definition of myopic. What are the cited reasons for moving to Plano by Toyota? They include cheap homes and a low cost of living. What is probably a key reason that wasn’t expressly stated, that the cheap homes go hand in hand with good schools. Most families value good schools (and houses), above the benefits of dense urban living. If you want the Toyota’s of the world downtown, focus on DISD for starters, not I-345. Of course, that would less effectively line the pockets of affected developers.

  4. Another factor to consider is DART and its financial implications for the 13 member cities (each of whom sends 1 cent of their sales tax to DART). The non-DART cities utilize their 1 cent to fund their Economic Development Corporations which then fund the relocation of companies out of the DART cities. Also, the term “suburb” is overly broad given the geographic makeup of our area. Lake Highlands is just as far from Downtown Dallas as many suburbs, and the actual boundaries of the City of Dallas extend into Collin County.

  5. But the point is that many in Dallas want to do something about improving the quality of life downtown and in the neighborhoods of East Dallas, and to grow the tax base by creating developable land that’s been rendered relatively useless by the highways that cut right through middle of it. That growth in the tax base will help DISD. Those neighborhoods being brought back together will also help DISD.

    Many in Dallas want to do these things, but they are being told that they can’t because they’re expected to consider the people who have to commute long distances each day. Why should they have to? Where has that gotten Dallas? Job losses and relatively stagnant wages while the other counties grow and grow and grow.

  6. Why, exactly, does the City of Dallas’ political leadership embrace “regionalism?”

  7. Jason, I am confused. Sometimes tear-down advocates say “no material traffic impact”. Other times its “who cares, this is about core Dallas (which apparently excludes the outer limits of the city), so to heck with the burbs.” Your comment falls on into the second camp. Patrick was actually arguing against the interests of individual commuters over the weekend as irrelevant in the face of STATEWIDE tax dollars funding highways (and if we are looking globally, then we should be very careful about potentially screwing up the tax generating machine to the North). Which is the official argument?

  8. I notice that you didn’t answer my question. Why should Dallas have to sacrifice its quality of life and the potential value of some of its most developable land for the supposed good of long-distance commuters?

    As for yours, I can’t speak for Patrick. And I don’t know what you mean by “official argument.”

  9. This may come as a surprise, but Plano is actually trying to get more dense. It has little land left to develop so it has to maximize the value of undeveloped land it has. And how do you do that? Go urban.

    If you think suburban folks value suburban design over Plano design just look at what is happening over in eastern part of Plano. Had you told some that 30 years ago Downtown Plano would be on the up-and-up, and Collin Creek mall down on its luck, most folks would have laughed.

    Or for that matter compare Legacy Town Center with Willow Bend.

  10. The more posts I keep reading like this, and the less I think D speaks to someone like me, who, like 82% (plus/minus depending on which stat you use) of the other residents of the DFW metropolitan area, lives in a city other than Dallas. Though I do not live in Dallas proper, I very much care about its health and want to see it AND its suburbs prosper. I’m getting the sense, however, that the desire for mutual prospering isn’t reciprocated among the Heids and Kennedys of the world. Why should I continue to care about you if you don’t care about us, I ask only semi-rhetorically?

  11. Tsk. You already know the answer. The political leadership embraces regionalism because it is driven by our business leadership who has a vested interest in building, paving and sprawling at all costs.

  12. I don’t honestly think it’s an either/or, city vs. suburbs proposition—at least it doesn’t have to be.

    But it’s hard not to respond in kind when the only objection I hear to the idea of getting rid of I-345 is that it’ll make life less convenient for commuters, that Dallas needs to suck it up and accept highways down the center of its neighborhoods for the good of the region. That’s the true we-don’t-give-damn-about-the-other-guy stance.

  13. If it’s really core vs burbs, then one big issue is that TxDot’s ultimate decision will be swayed by regional and statewide interests. They won’t risk existing growth (burbs) for core Dallas potential.

    If you are wrong about the scope of pent up demand (and I think you are), they you should see a lose lose situation: Damage to the effectiveness of the overall DFW traffic grid, impeding growth everywhere (or at least on a net basis), and a relative failure downtown.

    So basically, if it’s Dallas vs. Burbs, regional interests may say you lose, and I question the validity of the premise.

  14. But Plano isn’t tearing down any highways, and mucking things up for the region.

  15. And because many construction dollars come from state coffers, with a regional mandate.

  16. Except that the commuters are real, and large in number. The demand for new development is speculative, and essentially for the benefit of hypothetical future residents. Big difference.

  17. And for commuters the impact isn’t a little inconvenience. If you assume 15 addition minutes each way, that is 2.5 hours a week. 10+ a month. How much do you value 10 hours of your month?

  18. We have many good schools in Dallas. But just try to get a story about them printed in The Dallas Morning News. So let me suggest that we need to work on the perception as well as some of the schools which truly are bad.

    We have good schools in our neighborhood, about 10 minutes from downtown. But you do not have to live in a certain neighborhood to find good schools. It’s fairly easy to transfer, depending on the situation. Check out this article from a publication which does print something besides DISD administration drama: http://lakewood.advocatemag.com/2014/04/28/death-disd-attendance-zones/