The Economic Divide

4 Texas cities rank among 10 most economically segregated in U.S. — including Dallas

Dallas ranks among 10 most economically segregated cities in U.S.

Dallas skyline at night
According to a new study, Dallas is the No. 7 most economically segregated large metro in the country. Photo by Clay Coleman

A new report found that four of the top 10 most economically segregated large metro areas (those with populations more than 1 million) in the country are in Texas. Austin claims the top spot, followed by San Antonio (No. 3), Houston (No. 4) and Dallas (No. 7).

Segregated City: The Geography of Economic Segregation in America’s Metros, an 86-page report written by Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellande for the Martin Prosperity Institute, analyzes “the degree to which neighborhoods are made up of people of the same economic level” based on income, education and occupation; researchers mapped the data across the more than 70,000 Census tracts that make up America’s 350-plus metros. The higher each city ranked in those three specific kinds of segregation, the higher it ranked overall.

 “The rich and poor effectively occupy different worlds, even when they live in the same cities and metros,” reads the study.

For instance, Austin came in at No. 4 for occupational segregation and No. 5 for educational segregation, but it did not reach the top 10 for income segregation. Dallas tied San Antonio for the No. 3 slot in educational segregation among large metro areas. But Dallas did not rank in the top 10 in the occupational or income categories.

However, those were not the only factors driving the overall rankings. The report also found that the most segregated cities have certain characteristics in common.

For instance, economic segregation tends to be higher in cities with large populations, a significant technology industry presence and creative class, higher levels of education, and a large minority share of the population. Other factors considered were income and wage inequality, the breakdown of liberal and conservative voters, and even how people commute within the city.

Researchers note that overall economic segregation has increased dramatically over the past few decades. “It is not just that the economic divide in America has grown wider; it’s that the rich and poor effectively occupy different worlds, even when they live in the same cities and metros,” reads the study.

“Separating across these three key dimensions of socio-economic class, [this economic segregation trend] threatens to undermine the essential role that cities have played as incubators of innovation, creativity and economic progress.”

Non-Texas large metro areas rounding out the top 10 are Columbus, Ohio (No. 2); Los Angeles (No. 5); New York (No. 6); Philadelphia (No. 8); Chicago (No. 9); and Memphis, Tennessee (No. 10).

Read the entire report here.