Dallas Lags Behind in Median Family Incomes

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Incomes vary for any number of reasons—education, skills and talent, type of job, productivity, work effort, wealth, industries’ ups and downs, bad or good luck. The simple truth about the labor market goes a long way toward explaining the wide and persistent income gaps among Dallas-Fort Worth cities.

In 2015, median family incomes ranged from a high of $211,847 in University Park to a low of $28,427 in Wilmer, a small suburb to Dallas’ southeast. With median family income of $46,902, Dallas ranks fourth from the bottom, behind Wilmer, Hutchins, and Seagoville.

Median Income in Four North Texas Cities
Percent of families

Some other large North Texas cities: $124,794 in Frisco, $101,750 in Plano, $78,682 in Arlington, $62,345 in Fort Worth, $57,926 in Irving, and $55,417 in Garland. Overall, the median for the DFW metropolitan area was $70,673. For the nation, it was $66,011.

Dallas generates a tremendous amount of wealth—the product of all those gleaming downtown skyscrapers, a vibrant financial sector, the booming real-estate sector, and the retail and services industries spread across the city. So why do the city’s incomes trail all but a handful of suburbs and the nation as a whole?

Data on family incomes reflect where people live—not where they’re employed. Once the workday ends, commuting patterns leave Dallas with an income distribution that’s relatively flat, with 37.6 percent of resident families earning less than $35,000 a year and 77.2 percent living on less than $100,000. The rest make over $100,000, with 8.3 percent reporting incomes above $200,000.

Dallas residents’ median income—the value with the same number of families above and below—falls in the $35,000 to $49,999 range, well below the midpoint for most of the rest of the DFW area.

By contrast, the fast-growing northern suburb of Frisco skews toward higher-income families, with 64 percent above $100,000 and less than 4 percent in the low-income groups. Garland clusters around the middle class, with half its families between $35,000 and $99,999. Less than 5 percent of families in Wilmer make more than $75,000 a year.

Family Incomes Across Dallas-Fort Worth
Dallas has some of the lowest earnings in the region.

When it comes to income distribution, the Dallas-Fort Worth area probably looks a lot like other metropolitan areas. Post-World War II prosperity—especially the rapid spread of car ownership—led to a mad rush toward suburbanization, with middle-class families moving out of cities in search of more affordable housing, better schools, and lower crime rates. At the same time, gentrification of once-poor neighborhoods pushed low-income families to the fringes, where they took the place of middle-class suburban families that moved farther out.

Highway building hurried the process along, creating a ring of suburban outposts that moved farther and farther from Dallas proper. Workers typically commuted from suburbs to cities, but in recent decades, the jobs have been moving closer to where the workers live and suburban cities have been adding amenities.

It culminates in Frisco. A mere dot on the map in 1990, this city of 125,000 can now boast about its high-income families, the region’s fastest job growth (see “The Geography of Job Growth,” April D CEO), and the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility.

Decades of population shifts resulted in today’s pattern of median family income. A swath of higher income suburbs stretches across DFW’s northern tier—from Keller and Southlake, through Frisco, Plano, Allen and McKinney, and over to Rockwall. Dallas itself and the first-generation suburbs show relative lower incomes. Income tends to rise again toward the south, but these suburbs aren’t doing as well as the cities to the north.

Dallas can’t be pleased to continue as a DFW also-ran in family income. Raising the city’s medium family income might start with remembering what created the suburbanization boom: families’ preference for quality housing they can afford, good schools for their children, and a safe place to live. Pulling people back from the suburbs will be hard, especially now that amenities and jobs are taking root in one-time bedroom communities.

W. Michael Cox is founding director of the William J. O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom at Southern Methodist University. Richard Alm is writer-in-residence at the center.

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Housing Boom Continues In North Texas

DALLAS, Texas (CBS 11 News) – The housing boom continues in North Texas, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

According to new numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau the Dallas Fort-Worth metro area has seen the third largest population increase in the country behind Houston and New York. The area added more than 108,000 people between July 2012-July 2013. Since 2010, the whole area has grown to more than 6.8 million residents.

The growing numbers of people has given way to a competitive housing market where buyers usually get outbid and end up having to go over budget to buy their ideal homes.

Chad Henderson from DFWHomeseeker.com said “we’re blessed with good stable job growth, and it’s a business friendly environment, and our taxes are relatively low”, as to why the trend of moving to North Texas is so popular.

The sweeping of residents in these areas means a shortage of home buying options.

Regina Sierra is trying to relocate to the mid cities area says she has been looking for a house for about 2 years,but always gets out bid.

Sierra said , “there’s an open house on Saturday. By Monday there is already a contract. So it’s very competitive.”

Real estate experts say the best advice to home buyers is to have a trusted realtor who can move quickly on the homes, and be prepared to be out bid.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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As mortgage rates go up, will it be harder for Dallas-area homeowners to sell?

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Worries about higher interest rates have sent Wall Street into a tailspin during recent days.

The housing market may face some turbulence, too. Home mortgage rates rose this week for the fifth week in a row. The cost of financing a home is now at one of the highest points in years.

Along with pulling down the securities market, higher interest rates are likely to slow the rate of home price appreciation in markets across the U.S., said Daren Blomquist, economist with Attom Data Solutions.

"Especially in light of what we’ve seen in the stock market in the last few days, I think there is going to be a lot more pressure on interest rates to go higher," said Blomquist, who was in North Texas this week for a mortgage industry conference. "What people have predicted in the last few years is actually going to happen.

"The pressure is there for interest rates to rise."

The prospect of higher inflation and growing federal borrowing to pay for the big tax cuts and other spending is fueling worries about rising interest rates. That could mean homebuyers get a double whammy — both higher home prices and finance costs.

"The housing market has become somewhat dependent on low interest rates," Blomquist said. "It’s going to be an adjustment for the industry to deal with even marginally higher interest rates.

"In markets that have gone hog wild in terms of home prices, they are going to be in for a rude awaking as interest rates rise."

Dallas-Fort Worth is one of those "hog wild" home price markets.

Median North Texas housing costs have shot up by more than 40 percent in the last four years to an all-time high. Attom Data Solutions estimates that home prices in the D-FW area rose by more than 9 percent last year — one of the highest in the country.

Blomquist thinks that as long as job growth in North Texas continues to boom with thousands of people moving to the area, demand for houses will remain strong.

But it could be harder for sellers to hike their prices if buyers are having to spend more for mortgage interest every month.

"A little bit of headwind of rising interest rates could be good for the market," he said. "When you have substantial price appreciation happening you start to get in danger of over speculation."

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North Texas gardening courses offer comprehensive ‘newcomer’ instruction

DALLAS — Two free public courses aim to equip new gardeners with the tools to establish lush lawns, vibrant landscapes and bountiful vegetable gardens in the unique and unforgiving growing conditions of North Texas, organizers said.

The first session of Newcomers Guide to Gardening in North Texas is Feb. 10, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, 3601 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Dallas.

The second installment is March 3, 8 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Collin College Conference Center, 2400 Community Avenue, McKinney.

The courses are conducted by Texas A&M AgriLife Research’s Dallas-based Water University program along with local cities and water providers. Daniel Cunningham and Patrick Dickinson, Texas A&M AgriLife Research horticulturists in Dallas, will lead attendees through comprehensive instruction on gardening basics including soil preparation, effective fertilization, fruits, vegetables, regionally adapted turfgrasses and proper selection of plants.

The duo will also review resource-efficient irrigation and maintenance practices.

“Anyone who joins us will come away with a wealth of practical information that could boost their success in our Texas conditions while saving money and protecting precious resources,” Dickinson said. “Attendees also will have the support of Water University, its free courses all year and its connections in North Texas and the state at large.”

“Dallas/Fort Worth is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation,” Cunningham said. “Our influx consists of new homeowners from across the U.S. and other countries. A basic understanding of our sometimes unforgiving conditions can help them produce beautiful, bountiful plants while becoming effective stewards of our natural resources.”

Go to https://wateruniversity.tamu.edu and click “Events Calendar” to RSVP for Newcomers Guide to Gardening in North Texas.

“We have limited capacity for each course; they are free so they fill up fast,” Dickinson said.

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