Unemployment in Black Cities: Loop21 Explores Dallas
As part of our continuing series, we look at black unemployment in the thriving Texas city.
Even by the standards of oversized Texas, Dallas is pretty big. Its got a population of around 1.2 million people, but that number swells to nearly 6.4 million if the surrounding metropolitan area is included. Absorbing that extra demographic makes Dallas and its environs the largest metropolitan area in the South. Those 6.4 million people, meanwhile, account for almost 25% of the population of Texas.
True to form, the city is also large in terms of its African-American community. According to figures from the 2010 census around 308,000 blacks call Dallas home, placing it at number 10 in terms of largest populations of color in American cities. While at 26% it has a much lower proportion of blacks than smaller Southern municipalities like Memphis (64%) or New Orleans (61%), in bad times its black community suffers from the same unfortunate employment disparity as those more economically challenged places.
Generally speaking, Dallas is a thriving place. Its economy is deep and widely diversified, and many huge companies have planted their operations there. This is particularly true in the “telecom corridor," an area of a northern suburb home to some of the top names in that industry. Texas Instruments, for one, has its headquarters in the neighborhood and employs around 8,400 people.
Because its metropolitan area is so immense, Dallas’s employment profile roughly mirrors that of its state. The unemployment figure for both the Dallas metropolitan area and Texas stood at 7.0% this past March, significantly below the 8.2% national rate.
Times haven’t always been as good, however, and that’s particularly worrisome for the city’s African-Americans. In 2007, before the tough recession that spiked the unemployment rolls higher, the Dallas metro area’s black population had an unemployment rate of 7.8%, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute. Two years later, in the thick of the recession, that number jumped to 10.7%, and in 2010 it stood at 12.7%. That two-percentage point annual gain was much worse than that suffered by the New Orleans and Memphis metro areas. The former grew by 0.8%, while the latter actually saw a slight decrease of 0.2%.
Worse, the dip in employment disproportionately affected people of color, and the impact snowballed. The proportion of out-of-work blacks to whites was 1.5% in 2009, placing Dallas slightly below the average for American cities. But that wasn’t the case in 2010 when it rose to 2.3% to eclipse that year’s 2.0% average. In other words, it was largely black workers that bore the brunt of job losses.
Since then, like much of the country, Dallas’s employment situation has improved. Its black community, however, should remain wary – if there’s another economic slide, they might be the ones paying the heaviest price in terms of lost jobs.
[ALSO READ: Unemployment In Black Cities: Atlanta]