Poverty Issues

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Poverty Issues in Dallas County

“There’s more at risk for Dallas than just the well-being of its citizens who are trapped by poverty. Such high rates of persistent poverty will eventually push the best employers away from the city. That could send the city into a decline that everyone, rich or poor, will feel.

“I’ve said before we life in this barbell economic system in Dallas. We’ve got 18 billionaires — and let’s not even talk about half-billionaires and quarter-billionaire. We have a ton of those. And then 39% of our population are asset poor? That’s a big, big issue.” — Mike Rawlings, mayor of Dallas


Poverty in Dallas County is no longer isolated to certain communities in the county. In 1980, poverty was largely in the black community in south Dallas. In 2010, however, poverty is spread throughout Dallas County, though it is still more prevalent in the black and Hispanic communities.

Poverty in Dallas has persisted in the face of enormous growth, right in the heart of a metropolitan area that has been among the nation’s most prosperous and fastest growing.

From 2000-2012, there was a 5% growth in the total population of Dallas. In the same timeframe, there was a 41% growth in the poor population of Dallas.

Poverty By City

​ ​
Poverty Rank
(worst to best)
(center city)
Unemployment Rank
(worst to best)
Unemployment Rate
2012 Population
Detroit 138.3%178.3705,848
Philadelphia 226.8%157.01,483,115
Memphis 3
Dallas 423.9%

Dallas residents are more likely to be impoverished than those in any of America’s biggest cities except in Detroit, Memphis and Philadelphia.

Dallas Population Living in Poverty

  • 1 in 4 in Dallas
  • 1 in 3 Hispanics and blacks
  • 1 in 10 whites


  • The Hispanic population has increased by 22%. The number in poverty has more than doubled at 52%.


  • The black population has remained stable, increasing by 1%, but the number in poverty has increased by 28%.


  • The non-Hispanic white population has decreased by 11%, but poverty has increased by 29%.

Minimum vs. Living Wage

$8.80 per hour = poverty line for a single adult earner with two children.

$23.07 per hour = living wage for a single adult earner with two children.

Typical Costs of Living

  • food: $536
  • housing: $894
  • child care: $717
  • transportation: $712

There are 189,600 unemployed workers in Dallas.

The unemployment rate in Dallas in 6%.

“A staggering 127,000 people across Dallas, Collin, Rockwall and southern Denton counties are employed but still live below the federal poverty line.” — as reported by the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Education Level

  • 32.8% of the population did not graduate high school.
  • 22.3% of the population graduated high school.
  • 14.6% of the population has attended at least some college.
  • 4.7% of the population has earned a bachelor’s degree or other advanced degree.

Employment Status

  • 6.2% work full time, year round.
  • 26% work less than full time.
  • 41.1% do not work.​​


  • The current poverty level is 15%.
  • 22% of kids under age 18 are living in poverty.
  • The asset poverty rate is 39%.

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