More than one million people have moved to North Texas since 2010, making it the fastest growing of the large metropolitan areas in the U.S.
All that growth has bolstered the region’s economy — job growth in this region outpaced Texas and the rest of the U.S. over the last 10 years. Laila Assanie, a senior business economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, sat down with KERA to help put all this growth in perspective.
More than half of the population growth since 2010 came from people moving from outside of Texas, Assanie said. About a third came from the other U.S. states — big populous states like California and Florida, and also neighboring states like Oklahoma and Louisiana. Around 20% of new North Texans came from outside the country, from Mexico, and increasingly, Central America, China and India.
So where do you put one million new residents? Pretty much everywhere, Assanie said.
“Because our job growth has been so massive, it has also been widespread, and similarly development has also been widespread,” she said. “So it’s not as if we’ve seen growth just in the urban core or just in the suburbs. We’ve actually seen growth in the northern suburbs, in the southern suburbs and in the central city as well.”
Dallas-Fort Worth has emerged as the top apartment market in the nation, Assanie said. The region added more than 150,000 apartments since 2010, which is “akin to adding the inventory of a mid-sized metro such as Jacksonville, Florida, to DFW,” over the course of a decade, she said.
The growth in single family homes was slower, Assanie said, because banks were less willing to lend to single-family developers and builders in the wake of the 2008 housing recession. Though financing has come back now and single-family development has sped up, Assanie said there’s still some drag from high land prices and regulatory costs.
The Dallas-Fort Worth economy diversified, and job growth ran across the board. In all, about 900,000 net new jobs were created in the area over the past decade, Assanie said. In fact, only Los Angeles and New York City, which are much larger, created more jobs than Dallas-Fort Worth.
“We have a lot of the services on the Dallas side of the Metroplex, and on the Fort Worth-Arlington side we have the manufacturing and the energy jobs,” Assanie said. “When both of those come together we have this synergy that leads us to have a diversified industrial base.”
Finance and insurance, professional and business services, transportation and warehousing were standout sectors, she said. Also, with all the building going on, construction has done well.
The decade was tougher for publishing, telecommunications and computer manufacturing — each of which saw little or no growth, Assanie said. But, she added, “that is no different than the trend that we’ve seen nationally.”
Assanie isn’t in the business of making predictions, but she points to three trends that could dominate the DFW economy in the next decade.
First, she said North Texas has attained something of a critical mass of sorts in the information technology, finance and insurance sectors, giving it a gravitational pull that could attract even more players in those fields to the region. To that end, Uber’s big new hub being built in Deep Ellum and Charles Schwab’s decision to relocate its headquarters to Westlake may be harbingers of a broader trend.
Second, there’s a lot of talk among economists that U.S. is overdue for a recession, and Assanie said there’s good reason to think the North Texas economy’s increasingly multifaceted nature could help shield us from the worst impacts of an economic downturn. Essentially, with the local economy even less dependent on any single industry, a hit to one sector could be balanced out by a workforce distributed across an array of other sectors.
Last, expect more new neighbors. Even though breakneck population growth in Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth has slowed a bit, people are still flocking here. Some population estimates show Dallas-Fort Worth becoming as big as or even bigger than Chicago over the next decade, Assanie said.
“We yet have to see if that pans out,” she said. “But if that be the case, it seems like a lot of people are bullish on the DFW economy overall.”