Dallas, Texas is a powerhouse of economic growth. But that growth has not been shared equitably.
Even before the pandemic, only one-in-four young adults in Dallas earned a living wage. More troublingly, Black and Hispanic young adults are three times less likely than their White peers to earn a living wage, giving Dallas County the largest living-wage gap by race of all large urban counties in Texas.
Now, the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated this inequity– and demonstrated the urgency for system-wide change. During the COVID-19 crisis, across all age groups, approximately 75% of all unemployment claimants in Dallas County were not provided the educational support to attain a postsecondary credential.
Leaders across Dallas recognize the importance of addressing these challenges. That’s why they’ve come together to launch an ambitious new effort to help ensure that Dallas Thrives.
Dallas Thrives aims to double the number of young adults earning a living wage in a single generation, bringing the total from 25 to 50%. Just as importantly, the initiative aims to achieve this ambitious goal with racial equity, by closing racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps in living wage attainment. Our local economy loses nearly $4 billion dollars every year due to these gaps.
These ambitious goals require broad action from educators, business leaders, elected officials, and community leaders– including the leadership of the Commit Partnership and Dallas Regional Chamber, who will serve as the backbone organizations supporting this work.
"For years, Commit has tracked the progress our community has made across 11 key educational benchmarks," said Ashwina Kirpalani, Managing Director of Analytics. "Now, we're expanding the scope of our work to include living wage attainment for our underserved communities because the end of formal education is not a piece of paper but a living wage job."
By working together to prepare all Dallas students for success in the classroom and the workforce, we can create a strategic advantage for Dallas– attracting more employers and shifting opportunities in the region to higher-skill, better-paying jobs. Together, we can bolster our region’s economy and recover from our current downturn stronger than ever before.
“The future prosperity of our region is dependent upon ensuring all young people, especially our young Black and Hispanic Dallas-ites, have the opportunity to not only receive an excellent education, but translate that education into a fulfilling career path.” said Commit President Dottie Smith. “Dallas Thrives is a commitment to supporting Dallas’ economic growth by creating equitable opportunities for all of our young adults to grow and thrive, and I couldn’t be prouder to stand alongside our friends at the Dallas Regional Chamber as we strive to make this vision a reality.”
To learn more, you can visit https://www.dallasthrives.com/ and download a copy of the report: "Dallas Thrives, A community vision to double living wage attainment in a single generation".
Together, we can make our city a model for racial equity and economic resilience.