Highlights from the Dallas Economic Opportunity Assessment

This post was written by Research and Planning Intern Jake Kowalski.
Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) recently commissioned the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) to evaluate the barriers to economic prosperity in Dallas County. Frances Deviney, CPPP’s Chief Operating Officer, shared the data findings with a standing-room only crowd that included Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlins, Judge Clay Jenkins and CFT Chief Philanthropy Officer Sarah Cotton Nelson.
Key findings included:

  • Economic opportunity is clearly connected to people’s geographic segregation by race, income, and education level.
  • Quality schools, good paying jobs and health care are commonly found in similar geographic “higher opportunity” areas, so access to these opportunities is more difficult for Dallas County’s low-to-moderate income households.
  • For every dollar earned by a White worker in Dallas County, the average Black and Hispanic workers earn only 54 and 58 cents respectively.
  • The two maps below show how people of color make up the majority of the residents on the West, South, and East sides of Dallas and also have median household incomes far below those of wealthier white residents on the North Side.

To better understand and correct existing inequities, CPPP developed a number of policy recommendations to improve access to opportunity for marginalized communities. Improving opportunity is multifaceted and requires policymakers to make a host of changes to enable residents to realize their full potential. A few of the policy recommendations are:

  • To improve socioeconomically disadvantaged residents’ outcomes, they need access to good jobs in addition to improved access to child care, affordable health care, housing, and transportation.
  • To understand the underlying factors that created the opportunity gap for lower-income households, Dallas should perform an assessment of how existing policies, taxation, and spending may negatively impact marginalized communities.
  • Improving partnerships between businesses and educational institutions will strengthen career pathways
  • Increasing access to affordable, high-quality child and health care, housing, and transportation for underserved families will lead to healthier, more prosperous families.

The media covered the launch of the Dallas Economic Opportunity Assessment extensively, focusing on various inequalities experienced by communities of color. The Texas Tribune and KERA News highlighted the connection between income and racial segregation. The Dallas Morning News pointed out how the racial disparities extend beyond just income to higher levels of African-American mortality, as well as longer commutes for lower-income area residents. D Magazine focused on the strong evidence of racial inequalities in access to health care based on higher uninsured rates for people of color.
Communities Foundation of Texas is hosting the Dallas Economic Opportunity Workshop on May 8th, with registration here.
The full Dallas Economic Opportunity Assessment can be found here.
Links to the executive summary, a recording of the data presentation, media coverage, and other resources related to the assessment can be found on CFT’s website here.

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