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Census Shows a Wealthier, More Educated North Texas Workforce

Recent data reveals that four counties across North Texas have increased their numbers of workers with college degrees over the last five years and drawn more companies and workers from out of state.

Two men in business attire sit at a table
Thomas Vick, regional director of Robert Half, right, and Andrew Fadner, contracting data consultant for Robert Half's Full Time Engagement Professionals program in Dallas on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023.
(Lola Gomez/TNS)
(TNS) — The workforce landscape in North Texas has changed significantly over the past five years, thanks to an increase of workers with college degrees and specialized skills, according to analysts and Census Bureau estimates.

What’s more, the changing nature of jobs in the area has propelled household income growth in the four most populous counties in the same period.

“Most people who move to Texas, move here for jobs and for opportunity. They do not move here for the amenities,” said Laila Assanie, a senior business economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Census estimates show that across four North Texas counties, the number of workers with college degrees has increased over the past five years. They have also attracted companies and workers from other states and abroad.

Many of these workers are being lured to fill “white collar” jobs in fields such as science, mathematics, technology, corporate management and finance, resulting in a more diversified workforce, Assanie said.

Lloyd Potter, director of the Texas Demographic Center in San Antonio, said this trend is similar to other major job centers in Texas. The increase of “higher-skilled, higher-paid” jobs, “overall is a good thing for Texas,” he said.

Every year, the Census Bureau provides estimates of changing demographics and their characteristics in its American Community Survey. To conduct its analysis, The Dallas Morning News compared the recently released 5-Year 2017-2021 American Community Survey data to the 2012-2016 5-Year ACS data from the Census in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties.

The analysis on the 2016 and 2021 Census estimates showed the median household income in Dallas County increased by 10.89 percent – slightly more than the national median increase of 8.49 percent, after both figures were adjusted for inflation to December 2022 dollars. By contrast, Collin, Denton and Tarrant median incomes grew slower, at roughly 3.6 percent, 7.1 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.

Dallas County’s median household income was roughly $78,463 in December 2022 dollars, far below the national median of $90,516, according to the inflation-adjusted 5-year Census estimates. The two smaller counties had even higher median incomes — Collin’s estimated median household income is more than $130,000 when adjusted for inflation; Denton’s median was slightly less at $123,804 after adjusting for inflation.

Assanie said the state’s business climate plays a role in economic growth, with North Texas benefitting from being in a “lightly regulated” and “pro-growth” state, which has “helped us tremendously grow over the past five years.”

She said Texas was one of the last states to go into a recession during the COVID-19 pandemic, rebounding quicker than other states.

”The expectation was that when the pandemic hit us, people were not really moving because we were sort of in lockdown,” Assanie said. “But as those lockdowns were lifted, we also saw that migration to the state and to D-FW accelerated.”

Fueling ‘Continual Growth’

Unique to North Texas’ job market, is a multitude of industries moving into the area, said Thomas Vick, regional director of international recruiting firm Robert Half.

“That’s one of the things that really spurred and helped fuel the continual growth of the Dallas-Fort Worth market … it’s not (just) one particular industry that’s moving to D-FW,” he said.

Andrew Fadner, a North Texas native, has been a tech and data consultant for Robert Half’s Full Time Engagement Professionals program since January 2022. This program attracts professionals to contract with clients in any industry in North Texas to manage short and long-term IT projects.

“All companies and all organizations have software needs; they all have data needs,” Fadner said. “I know when people think of tech they tend to think of Google or Twitter or Apple but it’s really industrywide, everyone needs these solutions in today’s world.”

Job Market Diversifying

Urban areas with specialized workforces and diversified economies tend to grow faster than areas with legacy industries. That’s the case of the four largest North Texas counties, whose population grew faster than the nation’s average.

Dallas County’s labor force grew the slowest of the four major counties, increasing by only 5.53 percent, while Collin grew by 17.84 percent, Denton grew by 18.42 percent, Tarrant by 9.38 percent, and Dallas by 5.53 percent.

But Dallas’s labor force is the largest of these four counties— with roughly 1.38 million workers — followed by Tarrant with more than 1.1 million. Collin and Denton now have more than half a million workers each, according to Census estimates.

The Census defines the labor force as all non-institutionalized civilians over the age of 16 who are either working or actively looking for work, including those serving in the Armed Forces.

The North Texas economy has been diversifying over the past decade or two, said Assanie, the analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. She said that even after the COVID-19 pandemic brought on a recession, the region saw jobs rebound and “booming e-commerce growth” expanding trade and transportation occupations, along with the warehousing industry.

According to Census estimates, Collin and Denton each grew the most in production, transportation and moving occupations, each increasing by more than 35 percent since 2016. Meanwhile, Dallas County grew the most in management jobs, business, science, and arts occupation categories, increasing by more than 17 percent over five years.

Recruiting firm Robert Half, a California staffing company with an office in Dallas, has seen demand for information technology, data, and tech jobs. While tech layoffs made national news in 2022, Vick said the local market is still in a hiring position. ”We work with everything from tech companies to pharmaceuticals to banking to manufacturing,” he said.

Education on the Rise

Overall, Census data shows education levels in Dallas County rising, and that makes the North Texas employment market more competitive, Vick said.

In Dallas County, the number of people over 25 with a Bachelor’s degree or higher grew by 14 percent since 2016, according to the Census’ five-year estimates. In the other three large North Texas counties, the growth was even larger, increasing by 24.2 percent in Collin, 32.42 percent in Denton and 17.32 percent in Tarrant County.

Assanie said that “on average, the people that have been moving here have higher education than native Texans.”

According to the 2021 estimates, roughly 20.59 percent of U.S. adults who are 25 years or older hold a Bachelor’s degree, up more than 15 percent since 2016.

Assanie said migration from across the U.S. and internationally has provided a “significant boost to our educational attainment, our median income, the strength of our workforce and the skill sets that employers can tap into. While the Census Bureau has not released estimates for 2022, Assanie said her “hunch is that big boost has subsided and we’re more back down to our normal pace in migration that we see to the metroplex.”

Remote Workers More Than Triple

The number of people working from home has increased dramatically between 2019 and 2021, according to 1-year Census estimates. In Dallas, Denton and Collin counties the number more than tripled in two years, while in Tarrant the number working from home increased 192 percent.

Vick said Robert Half sees companies from New York, California and the Northeast turning to North Texas to find remote workers due to a low cost of living and educated workforce.

Assanie, the economist, said the growing skilled occupations — such as technology, finance or insurance jobs — lend themselves to working from home, and after the pandemic began, employers became more flexible.

”Obviously, not every industry offers to work from home option, it’s limited to those who have the flexibility,” Assanie said. However, she said there has been a “tremendous increase” in sectors that lend themselves to remote work.

©2023 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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