Dallas: The Jobs Are Coming (and Not Just in Oil)

Job growth (2008-2018): 17.5%
Population: 1,240,000
College educated: 42.6%
High/low average temperatures: 95/34
Median household income: $51,000
Median home price: $126,900
Art museums: 9
Parks: 8
Pro sports teams: 5
Ex-U.S. presidents: 1

The good news/bad news for Dallas/Ft. Worth has been defense and energy. Both are solid job engines for the region, but uncertainties in future Defense Department expenditures and instability in the Middle East have given both industries pause. The good news is that even if the clean energy industry grew at a rate far beyond what everyone is predicting, it would take decades to cut seriously into the petrochemical and gas industries, which currently account for about 6 percent of total Dallas/Ft. Worth employment. “It’s much more than drilling and refining,” says Stephen S. Fuller, Director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University in Washington, D.C. “In Dallas/Ft. Worth, the industry employs a lot of people in professional services.” And even if Washington suddenly decided to whack away at the defense budget, “there’s an awful lot of federal money in defense manufacturing in Texas that won’t go away for awhile,” Fuller says. “The state ranks number two in total defense contracts, and the Dallas/Ft. Worth area gets a big chunk,” — more than 50 percent of almost $200 billion in total Texas-won defense contracts between 2000 and 2007, to be precise. So even if energy and defense don’t rebound to levels seen in their heyday, they’ll still be a solid base of employment for the foreseeable future.

This powerful streak of lightning known as the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, will create nearly 32,000 jobs for the Dallas/Ft. Worth area over the project’s lifetime

What’s going to drive the 17 plus percent growth? The same trends that hold the key to job growth nationwide, including healthcare, management and financial consulting, technology, and a resurgence in research of all kinds. As the seat of the 11th Federal Reserve District, Dallas/Ft. Worth serves as a financial center for the Southwest. It’s a significant research hub — Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, and University of Texas Southwest Medical Center (ranked 20th in medical research in 2009) — and solidly managerial, with one of the largest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the United States. So look for growth in healthcare and social assistance, projected to grow 9.4 percent; professional services — think lawyers, accountants, financial advisers, regional sales managers — which will see 3.6 percent growth; and then, of course, there’s telecommunications. The so-called Telecom Corridor, north of Dallas, claims 5,700 companies, including Texas Instruments, AT&T, Verizon Communications, and Sprint, and a total workforce of about 106,000, which is expected to grow 15 percent over the next decade.