Dallas' Median Income Peaked in 1969

It all went south when the Cowboys lost Roger Staubach to Jones Lang Lasalle.
It all went south when the Cowboys lost Roger Staubach to Jones Lang Lasalle.

Remember Dallas in 1969? Roger Staubach had just joined the Cowboys. A noose of freeways was closing in around downtown. DISD was planning to desegregate its schools any minute.

Enjoy the memories, because it's all been downhill since then -- "it" being the economic well-being of the average Dallas resident. The Washington Post published a nifty interactive map this week showing when the median household income for each U.S. county peaked.

Most of the country topped out in 1999, which makes sense given the recession that gobbled up much of the next decade. But inflation-adjusted income in Dallas has declined steadily over the past 45 years, dropping from $61,026 in 1969 to $47,810 in 2013. On The Washington Post's map, Dallas is a maroon splotch in a sea of beige (2013 peak) and peach (1999 peak). It looks like we got marooned en route to the Rust Belt.

The decline is too protracted to be explained away by a lousy economy, and while the suburban exodus of the past two decades no doubt played a big role, Texas' other big urban counties faced similar pressures, and incomes in Harris (1979), Tarrant, Bexar and Travis (all 1999) all peaked later than Dallas'. Dallas' hollowing-out has been particularly acute.

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On the bright side, per-capita income in Dallas County saw a modest increase between 1969 and 2013. At least someone's making money.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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