Dallas County Shrinks as North Texas Population Grows, Census Says

While North Texas as a whole swelled to 7.8 million people during the pandemic, Dallas County lost nearly a percentage point of its population.

The US Census Bureau reports Dallas County’s July 2021 population fell to 2,556,050, about 25,000 fewer than the previous year.

The other three most populous counties in North Texas: Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties all saw growth of 0.5%, 3.4% and 3% respectively. Lloyd Potter, director of the Texas Demographic Center, told the Dallas Morning News he wasn’t surprised.

“A number of people seem to be moving out of Dallas County and into suburban counties,” he said.

Cullum Clark, director of the Bush Institute-Southern Methodist University Economic Growth Initiative, said population declines like the one seen in Dallas County are common right now in major US cities.

In recent years, he said, there have been two national demographic trends: a movement from coastal cities to the Sunbelt region and a migration from heavily populated urban areas to the suburbs.

Those leaving urban areas are opting for “fully formed” suburbs with jobs, retail and restaurants.

“And in Texas, we’ve been really good at it, more so than most other places,” Clark said. “We’ve seen the really explosive growth of many of these urbanized suburbs in North Texas like Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney and Denton, but there are others that are coming up behind them even further, like Prosper and Celina. .”

Although Dallas County is not experiencing the same growth as in the past, the region is booming. In 2022, according to local population estimates, North Central Texas will exceed 8 million people.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments includes the less populated counties of Wise, Hunt, Rockwall, Kaufman, Ellis, Johnson, Hood, and Parker, all surrounding the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, within the metroplex planning area where this growth is followed. These counties saw an increase in year-over-year growth ranging from 3.2% in Hunt County to 7.3% in Kaufman County.

Rogers Healy, owner of real estate firm Rogers Healy Companies, considers the D-FW metroplex one of the most affordable metropolitan areas in the country, despite real estate prices rising a record 31% in April. He believes the region holds even more growth potential.

“I think it has the potential to be the biggest subway in the whole country,” Healy said. “We can literally build all four directions.”

For about a decade, Potter said, Dallas County’s population growth depended on growth in international immigrants and birth rates. Minority population birth rates have carried Dallas County in the net positive for much of the past decade, Potter said. From 2020 to 2021, according to U.S. Census data released in June, these factors have not balanced out with the number of people leaving the county.

The global coronavirus pandemic has also accelerated migration out of Dallas County for some, Clark said.

The pandemic has brought economic uncertainty, which has likely slowed birth rates, and more people working from home, which could have more people looking for homes farther from downtown Dallas.

“We’re seeing people who don’t have to live next door or within commuting distance of their place of work,” Potter said. “People want to leave the central urban areas and want to move to suburban counties.”

Dallas County lost residents in its white non-Hispanic (-3.1%), African American (-0.9%) and Hispanic (-0.1%) categories, according to census data.

The two populations that increased within the Dallas County lines between 2020 and 2021 were the Asian population and the Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander populations. The US Census reported that the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area had the largest increases in these populations nationally.

The Asian population grew by more than 24,000, totaling 686,834 people for the metropolitan area, and Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders reached 22,286 last year, an increase of 3.9%.

People and jobs come and go in Dallas as employers prioritize their location choice over potential employees over dense urban towns. Job growth in other D-FW counties has outpaced Dallas, Clark said.

“Collin County, for example, employers would say, is one of the best places they could possibly go to in the United States to find a large, deep, well-trained, well-educated pool of potential workers from whom they can choose, that they can compete,” Clark said.

High-end service jobs, like at Wall Street investment banks and top law firms, will continue to retain downtown offices. But those who work and live off Interstate 635 don’t see much appeal in Dallas.

“People who live in the northern suburbs also work in the northern suburbs and in many cases very rarely come to the City of Dallas or to Dallas County,” Clark said.

Healy’s company is selling properties in the D-FW metroplex. He talks about Dallas County’s migration to affordable housing.

“Four hundred thousand [dollars] two years ago, I didn’t frequent the city too much. It doesn’t get you anything now. Thus migration to Collin County, Denton County and Tarrant County, and even Rockwall County is occurring in droves.

The housing supply in Dallas County is also much lower than in surrounding counties. Dallas County barely builds more homes than it tears down, Clark said. Millennials are driving the market, Healy said, and they want their money to go further.

“All the cities that we didn’t even hear about 10 years ago are the new boom towns, because frankly, there are places to build,” Healy said.

Outside of North Texas, most urban corridors in the state saw positive population growth. Statewide, Texas grew from 300,000 to 29,527,941 from 2020 to 2021.

The state’s demographics bureau reported last week that more African Americans live in Texas than in any other state, and that Texas has the second-largest non-Hispanic white population after California.

All urban counties except Travis County in Austin experienced a decline in the non-Hispanic white population.

Dallas County also saw the largest population decline of large urban counties in Texas. Harris County was the only other urban county with a decline in population, dropping 0.09% to 4,728,030.

Economist and demographer Clark said the Houston-area county is seeing the same trends as Dallas County, but Harris County has more room within county lines to grow. Harris County’s 1,778 square miles is almost double Dallas County’s 909 square miles.

Healy and Clark expect D-FW’s sprawl to continue outside of Dallas County as more people search for affordable housing and job growth continues there. outside the county.

“I think the question mark is how well does the city of Dallas stay in the competitive game?” said Clark.