Dallas Ranks Ninth Among Milken Institute’s Top 25 Best-Performing Cities

The concentration of headquarters, top universities, healthcare systems, and tech companies are key components to Dallas’ stature among the nation’s metro areas.

Milken Dallas Best-Performing

Continuing to benefit from its growing reputation as a strong economy, Dallas has made the Top 10 on the Milken Institute’s 2020 index of the Top 25 Best-Performing Cities.

The Dallas-Plano-Irving metro area ranked No. 9 on the index. Last year, Dallas placed fifth. The San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, California metro area was No. 1 on the list and the Austin-Round Rock metro area in Texas kept its No. 3 ranking from the previous year.

Milken cited Dallas’ assets as the concentration of and additions of corporate headquarters that provide job opportunities in professional services, as well the diversity of region’s industries, low taxes and housing costs, and a high-quality talent pool relative to other major U.S. cities. Add to that an unemployment rate that’s been trending downward in the recent decade, reaching 2.7 percent in May 2019, the lowest point in the past decade.

Dallas-Plano-Irving saw strong employment growth in recent years, the institute said in its report. In the 12-month period preceding August 2019, the metro area had the eighth-highest job growth rate among the nation’s large metro economies.

But, Milken also cited the region’s liabilities. That included rising housing prices that erode our long-standing competitive advantages.

The Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities series has monitored the economic performance of U.S. metro areas for two decades using data on jobs, wages, and salaries, as well as high-tech gross domestic product (GDP) indicators. The rankings are based on a metro’s performance, with specific indicators helping to identify the driving forces behind successes and failures.

Headquarters growth helps drive our ranking

The Dallas-Plano-Irving metro is home to headquarters for a variety of major companies: AT&T, Baylor Scott & White Health, Boeing Global Services, Southwest Airlines, Texas Instruments, and Toyota Motor North America, and many more. It’s also a regional hub for the financial, healthcare, high-tech, and logistics sectors.

Milked cited, for example, Liberty Mutual opening a new regional hub in late 2017 in Plano that is expected to employ 5,000 people in the next few years. JPMorgan Chase also opened a new campus in Plano that eventually could be home to roughly 10,500 employees.

Tech companies, specifically—think Boeing, Raytheon, and Uber—are a big draw in the region. With Dallas Fort Worth International Airport serving as its backbone, the metro area has become a major logistics hub. And in healthcare, there’s UT Southwestern Medical Center, Children’s Health, and Baylor Scott & White Health, some of the biggest systems in the metro area.

There’s also several major universities that help attract businesses, such as the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson and the University of North Texas at Dallas, which supplies a skilled workforce to the local labor markets. That also makes for a well-educated populace.

Among the total population aged 25 years or older, 37 percent possess a bachelor’s degree or higher, greater than both the state (29 percent) and U.S. (32 percent) averages.

Alex Edwards contributed to this report.

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