Income Inequality in Dallas Is Rising Fast

Protesters rally against income inequality -- and other things -- at an Occupy Dallas rally in 2011.
Protesters rally against income inequality -- and other things -- at an Occupy Dallas rally in 2011.
Stephen Masker

In a rather unsurprising turn of events, Dallas' rich are getting richer while its poor are getting poorer. According to census data crunched by the Brookings Institution this week, the income of the top 5 percent of earners rose by a impressive 12.2 percent between 2012 and 2013, jumping from $202,371 to $227,015. The drop in earnings for the bottom 20 percent was less dramatic, just $166, or about 1 percent, but it was a drop.

Dallas isn't unique in having a chasm between rich and poor. High income inequality -- or at least higher than the national average -- is the norm for American cities, where, for various reasons, the wealthy have higher incomes and the poor lower incomes than in suburban and rural areas. But the income gap in Dallas is high (Brookings' analysis puts Dallas seventh among the country's 50 largest cities based on the "95/20 ratio," which divides the earnings of the top 5 percent by those of the bottom 20 percent) and it's widening faster than everywhere except Cleveland and maybe Minneapolis, although the census' sample size there was too low to be statistically significant. This is evidenced by how quickly Dallas has climbed the list of unequal cities; last year, it ranked 13th.

This is bad news, and not just because of libtard hand-wringing over economic fairness. Cities with high levels of inequality tend not to function as well as those that don't. This diagnosis from Brookings' 2014 analysis of big-city inequality rings true for Dallas:

A city where the rich are very rich, and the poor very poor, is likely to face many difficulties. It may struggle to maintain mixed-income school environments that produce better outcomes for low-income kids. It may have too narrow a tax base from which to sustainably raise the revenues necessary for essential city services. And it may fail to produce housing and neighborhoods accessible to middle-class workers and families, so that those who move up or down the income ladder ultimately have no choice but to move out.

Significantly narrowing the income gap will likely take a concerted effort by policy makers. A higher minimum wage would probably help. So would increased investment in early-childhood education, more good, affordable housing, and a better menu of transportation options. Or, Dallas can simply wait to see if money will eventually start trickling down the economic ladder.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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