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Wednesday, May 25, 2022
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Opinion: Why DFW is Growing


Dallas skyline | Image by Mihai_Andritoiu

As stated in Wikipedia, a Metropolitan Statistical Area (or MSA) …”is a geographical region with a relatively high population density at its core and close economic ties throughout the area.” The Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex is the fourth (4th) largest MSA in the USA, behind New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago (i.e. the Top 3). (Don’t worry Houstonites (aka Houstonians), Houston’s MSA is ranked #5). As of 2021, the Metroplex has approximately 7.76 million people currently. There are other types of designations, and those, sometime place the DFW area as tenth (10th), instead of fourth (4th), so as usual, definitions matter.

The point of this article is not to prove who has the most people. It is though, to point out that this area of North Texas is on a path to perhaps surpass, Chicago, Los Angeles and even New Your City. With the Top 3 losing population over the past couple of years, we should pay attention to what is happening right in our own backyard.

It has been predicted that by the year 2050, Twenty (20) Million people will likely claim the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex as their home. But, why is this so?
The cost of living is lower compared to two of the Top 3.  The average annual expenditure for the latest data 2018-2019 from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in 2020 is as follows:

NYC    $73,806
LA    $69,824
CHI    $64,804
DFW    $66,966

There are no state or local income taxes in Texas versus the Top 3, which then helps improve DFW’s numbers. There are no natural boundaries. Unlike New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, the DFW Metroplex does not have oceans, lakes, mountains, or deserts which constrain these cities’ growth geographically. While some see this as a drawback because there are no beaches or mountains, to easily visit, other see the abundance of land (and lakes) on which to expand, with little limitation, a plus.

The weather generally allows for ease of travel throughout the entire year. For those who have grown up here, the winters of ice and snow are ephemeral at best. An ice storm, once a decade, is par for the course. It snows maybe once every five (5) years and is gone in a day or two. So what if the streets are impassable for a week? That is nothing compared to the three to four months of ice and snow that are common in Chicago and New York. When my father lived in Chicago, during a particular bad blizzard, the City of Chicago literally towed cars off the snow-engulfed streets and stacked those cars on top of each other three-cars-high in local school yards because citizens couldn’t dig them out of the snowbanks that were clogging the main streets!

Earthquakes are not weather, but better to deal with them here. We do not have the severe earthquakes for which Los Angeles is famous. We do have tornados which can be devastating, but they are fairly well tracked and minimize loss of life thanks to up-to-date weather tracking.
Currently on the boards and under construction in several locations is an “Outer Loop” around the Metroplex. It will encircle Dallas and Ft. Worth. Depending on its final route, it will easily be somewhere between a 250 to 400 mile round trip. This will likely spur even more spreading of the Metroplex, but the Outer Loop will help facilitate transportation for which the top three MSA’s are famously deficient. The fact that the majority of DFW’s growth has occurred since the end of World War II, means our highways, boulevards and streets are more up to date that the older Top 3 and will be able to take advantage of improved logistical methods.

One important thing to note, is that there are still many opportunities for growth within the original boundaries of the core cities. While newer construction may occur farther out from the cities’ centers, we need to realize that many opportunities still exist within the established city limits.

Renewing old areas, as well as the spreading to and beyond the Outer Loop will both contribute to the Metroplex becoming perhaps, sooner than we realize, the largest MSA in the county.     

For this reason, it is now more important than ever that we pay attention and play a conscious and active role in planning the successful future of DFW.

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