Dallas, Texas – In a significant migration shift, Dallas County experienced a 1% reduction in adjusted gross income from 2020 to 2021 as individuals moved out of the area, according to an analysis of tax data by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), a nonpartisan think tank. This out-migration, notably among high-income residents, had considerable economic repercussions, resulting in a decrease of $565 million in the county’s adjusted gross income.
Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs saw increased gross income during the pandemic
However, it wasn’t all bad news for the Dallas-Fort Worth region. Suburbs and exurbs outside Dallas County enjoyed growth in adjusted gross income during the pandemic, fueled by the influx of those who relocated from the city centers. As millions of Americans reevaluated their living arrangements in the wake of the pandemic, they also inadvertently altered the geographical distribution of wealth generation in the United States, as noted by Axios’ Neil Irwin.
This shift isn’t just about numbers – it has profound implications for local economies. Those who departed from larger cities were predominantly high-income earners, meaning that the impact on the local economies exceeded what might be suggested by mere migration figures. Even cities that don’t levy local income taxes rely heavily on residents’ incomes to bolster the local housing market, retail sales, and tax base.
Dallas County’s neighbors benefited substantially from this migratory shift. Collin County, for example, witnessed a 4.7% increase in adjusted gross income from 2020 to 2021, adding $1.3 billion to its coffers. Denton County experienced a comparable rise in income, accounting for a 7.2% increase.
Tarrant County, although with a more modest uptick, added over $119 million to its adjusted gross income. Furthermore, several North Texas exurbs and rural areas saw massive increases from migration-derived incomes. Kaufman County alone enjoyed a $259 million increase in income from migration.
Cities in East Texas performed much better, substantially adding more gross income
Moreover, East Texas, identified as a pandemic growth region, amassed hundreds of millions more in adjusted gross income, underlining the substantial scale of urban income flight.
“The scale of urban income flight is a lot larger than I thought it would be,” said Connor O’Brien, who conducted the analysis at EIG. “It’s very likely that the last couple of years in superstar cities, high earners have become more mobile, while everyone else has been stuck.”
Although the data only covers up to 2021, O’Brien notes that the trends, while possibly attenuated, have likely not reversed based on other evidence. Adding credence to this notion, Dallas County, which saw a population decline between 2020 and 2021, registered a rebound by adding nearly 9,000 residents between July 1, 2021, and July 1, 2022.
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