From the longest light rail system in the country to a bustling arts scene, Dallas offers students and workers many reasons to call the city home. Beyond the quality of life, residents benefit from a low unemployment rate - 3.7 percent as of April 2015 - and above average incomes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the area's 3.2 million workers earned average annual incomes of $47,670 in 2014.
Vocational schools in Dallas could be a great option for those who want to enter the workforce quickly. To find out more about the city, we talked to Tim Glass, the manager of the Research & Information Division within the Dallas Office of Economic Development. Tim shares why the economy is hot, which industries to watch and why students should consider going to school and getting a job in Dallas.
What is the economic outlook in Dallas?
We are one of the strongest metro economies in the country. We were one of the first to come out of the recession and one of the last to go in. We have a very diverse economy and probably best mirror the national economy in terms of its industry mix. We have major Fortune 500 companies and a wide range of industries.
People think about Texas and think about oil, but Dallas is really a financial center. It's an innovation and technology center. And the fact that we're located in the geographic center of the country creates a lot of great advantages for companies and workers alike.
What are the top employers and industries in Dallas?
The biggest one [besides AT&T and Southwest Airlines] is Texas Instruments. For over 50 years, it's been the leader in semi-conductors. The integrated circuit was invented here in their laboratory, which is the reason computing power can exist today the way it does. So you put those things together and TI continues to be a huge employer in the city and a major leader around the world.
Going back to that diversity, we've got big banks like Comerica based here. We've got Dean Foods which is one of the largest food companies in the country. [We've got] Brinker International which is the parent company of Chili's restaurants. And certainly going back to energy, we've got companies like HollyFrontier and Energy Future Holdings that have major operations and headquarters here.
Do you see any emerging industries in Dallas?
Going back to our geographic location, we're a rapidly growing logistics center. You can get almost anywhere in the country by plane in 4 hours or by truck in 48 hours. We're seeing a huge number of large distribution centers open here to serve either the center part of the country or, in some cases, the whole country. That's been a huge growth area for us.
Also, medical is becoming a big part of what we do. We've got the UT Southwestern Medical Center here in Dallas which I think is the only medical research place in the world with four Nobel Prize-winning laureates on staff.
And then the place that's garnering the most headlines right now is corporate headquarters and corporate offices. We've had a lot of different companies either relocating their headquarters here or centralizing a lot of corporate business functions within the region here. [They are] creating these huge new complexes that are employing 4,000-7,000 people.
What is the housing outlook in Dallas?
Generally housing is cheaper here than it is on average in the rest of the country. Certainly since we're growing so rapidly as a region - adding 300 people a day - that has put some strain on the amount of housing available and that is of course causing some price increases. But we're still somewhere between 90-95 percent of national [housing prices].
Are salaries in the city competitive and keeping up with the cost-of-living?
Certainly, I would say so. I think, relative to the cost of living, every analysis we've seen shows that our workers' purchasing power here in Dallas is greater here than it would be in a lot of other locations. While you may make less in terms of the actual dollar amount, you'd be able to afford a lot more. A downtown apartment in Dallas would cost four times more in New York.
Does Dallas have any initiatives to promote job opportunities and economic growth?
Well, our Office of Economic Development is always on the cutting edge of figuring out how to make [our] business-friendly environment even more friendly. We're really good at putting together deals to make the area attractive to companies and to help developers build interesting new projects that will appeal to a broad base of residents and workers.
On the job market right now, we're in a position where the economy is growing so quickly and our unemployment rate is so low that the idea we need to create more jobs for existing residents is minimal compared to the overall goal of growing the economy. We continue to make a lot of institutional investments and that's where were seeing the return on investment, particularly in terms of quality of life.
What does Dallas have to offer to students?
I think the economic diversity is huge for students. If they go to work in one industry and decide it's not for them, there are lots of other options to transfer. And we've got a really good quality of life. This is a fun place to live.
We do have a robust community college district with eight campuses that offers a wide range of programs. We have a lot of mid-skill jobs, and that's a growing sector of the economy.
Why should people consider moving to Dallas?
I think the short answer is because it's where the employers are moving. We're one of the fastest growing regions in the country, and Dallas is the urban center. We have a unique opportunity to live a lifestyle that's conducive to what younger people are looking for nowadays. We're seeing an amazing quality of life.
Tim Glass is the manager of the Research & Information Division within the Dallas Office of Economic Development.
- Interview with Tim Glass of the Dallas Office of Economic Development
- Dallas-Fort Worth Economic Summary, Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 3, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/regions/southwest/summary/blssummary_dallasfortworth.pdf
- Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_19100.htm