Bright Spots / New Data Show A Decade of Growth In Dallas County

New Data Show A Decade Of Growth In Dallas County 4

Bright Spots

New Data Show A Decade of Growth In Dallas County

More young Dallas County residents than ever before are achieving postsecondary credentials, according to Commit analysis of newly released census data. Specifically, the percentage of residents age 25–34 with some kind of college degree (associate, bachelor’s or graduate) has grown from 34% in 2012 to 45% in 2022, expanding the population with the skills and credentials to more fully participate in our growing regional economy.

Our True North Goal is that by 2040 at least half of all 25–34-year-old Dallas County residents, irrespective of race, will earn a living wage (currently defined as $58,784). One of our key strategies for reaching this goal is increasing the attainment of degrees and industry certifications. National research from Georgetown University demonstrates degree holders have significantly higher lifetime earnings on average than people without degrees.

Commit analysis of census and workforce data shows an even larger impact locally: Dallas County public school alumni age 25-30 working in Texas earn average salaries that are significantly greater than their peers with no college experience.

That’s why the 2022 American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) is worth celebrating. The new dataset shows, compared to 2012 (the year of Commit’s founding), tens of thousands more Dallas County residents have been put on a path to a living wage by being provided access to postsecondary degrees.

Equally important, the proportion of young residents who were not provided the support necessary to earn high school diplomas has been cut in half – from 24% in 2012 to just 12% in 2022.

In both respects, Dallas County has outpaced changes at the state level: Texas grew its percentage of degree holders by only nine points and cut its percentage of high school dropouts by only seven points in the same period. This suggests the students-first policies implemented by local leaders in the intervening years are achieving their goal of generating economic mobility.

But we can’t end our analysis there. Our True North Goal of living wage attainment is also predicated on closing racial gaps, and this newest data show we are making progress – but we still have a long way to go.

Specifically, by disaggregating the rate of bachelor’s or higher degree attainment, we can see that each of our county’s major population groups, Black, Hispanic, and white, have seen increases of ten percentage points in the past ten years. But given the wide disparity in starting points from a decade prior, significant variances remain. In short, progress is happening equally, but gaps are not closing, suggesting the need for more targeted, equitable support.

One thing that remains unclear is the impact of in-migration to our region. This dataset cannot tell us how many of our new degree holders were educated within our local education system, and how moved here from a different county or state, attracted by our significant job growth and robust economy.

Still, to some extent, these distinctions about educational attainment among populations groups are not in conflict but rather mutually reinforcing. Other data points illustrate our local school systems are growing college and career readiness, which in turn makes our region more attractive for employers and employees alike. And our new neighbors moving here from across the country and around the world ensure the students born and raised in Dallas County have even more opportunities to learn, work, and thrive.

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