The city of Dallas isn’t growing.
Despite a surging state population and double-digit growth rates in Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio, the city of Dallas grew by a paltry 1 percent in the last decade, according to the new census figures — a rate lower than any of the 20 largest cities in Texas. Dallas County fared little better: Its 6.7 percent growth rate was dwarfed by the four other most-populous Texas counties, which each saw more than 20 percent growth.
City and county officials blame the low growth on Dallas’ topography: The third-largest city in Texas is simply built out. With little empty land ripe for new development, they say, the bulk of the growth must naturally be outside the county line — that is, until their efforts to lure business professionals and retiring suburbanites into a newly remodeled, newly trendy downtown fully pay off.
“We may not have the same population opportunities, but we’re focusing on the economic side of that,” said Tom Leppert, the exiting mayor of Dallas. “We’re bringing a lot of business in, seeing a real resurgence in the downtown area. We’ve positioned ourselves very well for the future.”
But critics suggest Dallas’ larger-than-life image may be shrinking for another reason. They argue that officials’ lack of investment in public schools, streets, parks and pools — the real-world priorities outside of the city’s highbrow Arts District, with its cultural monuments designed by the hottest “starchitects” (Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas, I.M. Pei, Renzo Piano), and soon-to-be sky-high Santiago Calatrava “signature” bridges — is sending white families and middle-class minorities fleeing for the suburbs. The result, they say, is an inner city that is increasingly Hispanic, less educated and poor.
Mike Moncrief, the mayor of Fort Worth, said one of the big reasons for his city’s explosive growth is that Dallas is largely built out, and development is moving from east to west. While Dallas County can “only continue to build density,” he said, its neighbors, including Tarrant County, have room to grow.
Indeed, neighboring Collin and Denton counties grew by 59 percent and 53 percent, respectively; nearby Rockwall County grew by more than 80 percent, and is home to Fate, the biggest boomtown in Texas’s 2010 census count (it grew 1,100 percent). Statewide, four dozen cities and towns more than doubled their populations, and more than half were in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. “It’s phenomenal,” Murdock said, referencing one such city, McKinney. “You find growth rates there that make you stand in awe.”
And a lot of that suburban growth is African-American and Hispanic.
One of the most intriguing statistics in the 2010 census is the unprecedented movement of black families into homes and jobs in the suburban counties surrounding Dallas.
In Collin and Denton counties, and in the suburbs of Dallas and Fort Worth, black growth rates soared by as much as 178 percent over the past decade, with most of the growth going to rapidly expanding communities located near major job centers with quality schools.
Allen’s black population soared from 1,915 to 7,071, and the percentage of population almost doubled. Frisco’s black population grew even faster, to 8.1 percent of the population from 3.8 percent in 2000.
In Dallas County, Cedar Hill now has a black majority at 51.9 percent of the population, after a net gain of more than 12,500 black residents in 10 years.
The 2010 census numbers for Texas and the nation show declining non-Hispanic white populations in many places and strong growth in Hispanic and, to a more limited extent, Asian and black numbers.
That phenomenon is particularly true in the Dallas area, where white growth was far lower percentagewise than that of other racial and ethnic groups from 2000 to 2010. Dallas County lost almost 200,000 white residents in the decade, a 20 percent decline. But other groups more than made up for the loss.
It’s the suburbs, though, that recorded the most substantial changes. Each of the suburban counties surrounding Dallas grew sharply over the decade, especially in terms of minority populations.
“I think what we’re seeing is African-American suburbanization and growth everywhere in the Hispanic population,” said Dr. Steve Murdock, director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University and former director of the Census Bureau.
“At the same time, we’re seeing the Anglo population declining in 161 Texas counties, including Dallas,” he said. “And the Hispanic population is increasing just about everywhere.”
According to the DMN story, a lot of the reason for all that African-American migration to Dallas’ suburbs is the quality of the schools. One wonders what these residents are doing about the impending budget cuts to public education, which will hit those schools hard. Anyway, I just thought these stories were worth noting, and by noting them I hope to get Greg to draw some more maps. Because you can’t have too many maps.