Report: Dallas-Fort Worth Has One of the Top 5 Fastest-Growing Economies in the U.S.

“More intense innovative activity leads to higher rates of economic progress," researchers for an international conference noted last year. That's certainly true of Dallas-Fort Worth, which had the No. 5 fastest-growing economy of any U.S. metro this year, according to the American Growth Project. DFW and the other top four metros on the list share a key distinction: They're all hubs for tech and innovation.

The report says DFW's attractiveness helps bolster its existing “diversity and strength across industries,” while noting that health care is a “major driver of economic growth” in the region.

“During the peak months of the COVID-19 pandemic, no metro area’s population grew more than Dallas-Fort Worth,” a new report states. And that’s helped propel the region into having one of the fastest-growing economies in the country.

Stacked up against the 50 largest extended metro areas across the U.S., DFW had the fifth fastest-growing economy this year, according to the American Growth Project, an initiative led by the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.

“While national statistics tell a story of averages, they fail to account for the true drivers of economic expansion and contraction,” the report states. “It is only upon examining America’s microeconomies—our cities, towns, suburbs, and rural communities—that we can begin to appreciate the myriad and complex determinants of broader U.S., and sometimes even global, economic trends.”

DFW saw 3.1% GDP growth this year

Based on gross domestic product growth—which the report calls the standard measure of economic activity—at the county level, the DFW region came in behind only the Raleigh-Durham, Seattle, Austin, and San Francisco areas. Overall, the report says DFW saw 3.1% GDP growth this year, representing $682 billion. That means DFW makes up 2.7% of the country’s GDP, the report notes, ranking it No. 7 among other major metros.

When coupled with its population of 8.1 million, about 2.5% of the U.S. total, the report places DFW at No. 5 in terms of economic growth. Noting that DFW added more than 97,000 new residents between June 2020 and July 2021, the report states that the region’s attractiveness helps bolster its existing “diversity and strength across industries,” while noting that health care is a “major driver of economic growth” in the region.

Austin (No. 2) was the only other Texas metro to crack the top 10 on the report’s rankings, with 4.3% 2022 GDP growth and a total 2022 GDP or $216 billion. The city ranked No. 33 in terms of population growth.

One of the main things linking DFW and the rest of the top five metros listed in the report is their status as hubs for technology and innovation. And as researchers noted in a report for the International Conference on Future Networks & Distributed Systems from late last year, “More intense innovative activity leads to higher rates of economic progress.”

Helping leaders navigate economic transformation

Overall, DFW’s growth is reflected in other trends the report says are taking place across the country, including a shift from low-tech employment to high-tech; a population movement toward the South and West; and a recovery in the hospitality and leisure sectors. It also notes that “the long-term potential shift toward reshoring” would benefit a region like DFW.

The American Growth Project plans to release additional rankings, insights, and forecasts during the coming months to include factors that are “fundamental drivers of growth,” like education and capital spending. The report’s authors say their goal is to help government officials, business leaders, and other decision-makers navigate economic transformation, along with aiding in things like site planning.

“We will examine measures such as industry growth potential; labor flexibility and readiness; skills levels and gaps; and the urban/rural economic divide,” the report states. “The project will explore both longstanding business, economic and labor issues along with timelier topics, such as the effects of pandemic-related migration and work-from-home policies.”

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