Dallas Morning News
Dallas’ economy is growing — but its racial wealth gap is growing, too
by Michael Hogue and Melissa Repko | November 26, 2018
With a low unemployment rate and a booming real estate market, Dallas is thought of as a place of prosperity. But data about wealth in the city paints a more complex — and troubling — picture. Dallas has a significant wealth gap between white households and black, Latino and Asian households, according to a report by Prosperity Now, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that studies financial security. Since almost 70 percent of Dallas’ population is black, Latino or Asian, the racial wealth divide challenges Dallas’ economy, now and in the future.
Dallas-Fort Worth is the fourth-largest metro in the country, behind New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. In recent years, it has had one of the highest domestic migration rates in the country, gaining roughly 400 new residents a day. In the city of Dallas, population growth has mostly been driven by growth of Latino households.
“Our thesis is this: We are an organization here to close the opportunity gap. The opportunity gap acknowledges that every human being is born with inherent greatness. If we are not able to see a broad swath of people living out that potential, that means there’s a problem with the system.”
Byron Sanders, president and CEO of Big Thought
In Dallas, there’s a strong link between racial segregation and income. White residents make up a smaller part of Dallas’ population, yet white households make up nearly all of the wealthy census tract neighborhoods. On the other hand, communities of color are concentrated in low-income neighborhoods, such as those in southern Dallas.
“There is oftentimes this idea that if we just make the economy better, that’ll solve all of the economic problems we talk about. But what we’re seeing in Dallas is that it’s not bridging racial wealth inequality and that it’s actually leaving communities behind. So I think that’s an important takeaway to recognize: That our economic growth alone will not bridge racial economic inequality.”
Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, senior fellow of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative of Prosperity Now
With almost every financial metric, Dallas households of color are lagging behind white households and faring worse than those in other parts of Texas and the U.S. On the other hand, white Dallas residents are wealthier and have lower unemployment than their counterparts across the state and country. Latinos have lower unemployment in Dallas than elsewhere — but they’re still making lower wages and struggling to pay the rent or buy a house. Black households in Dallas are making less than they were decades ago. The median income for black residents in Dallas fell almost $10,000 between 1980 and 2016.
“Even though many newcomers keep moving to Dallas, the city has struggled to attract and retain middle-class families. The data shows most of the city’s residents are either very rich or very poor. Fast-growing suburbs, especially in Collin County, have also lured away residents and concentrated poverty in Dallas — which could have long-term economic implications for the urban core.”
Melissa Repko, staff writer, The Dallas Morning News
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