Aug 16, 2023 - News

Millions in income moved out of Dallas during the pandemic

Net change in income from migration, 2020 to 2021
Reproduced from Economic Innovation Group analysis of IRS data; Map: Axios Visuals

Moves out of Dallas County resulted in a 1% drop in adjusted gross income between 2020 and 2021, according to an analysis of tax data from the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), a nonpartisan think tank.

  • But Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs and exurbs outside of the county had increases in adjusted gross income during the pandemic due to migration to those areas.

State of play: When millions of Americans rethought their living situation during the pandemic, their moves changed the geography of where money is made in the United States, Axios' Neil Irwin reports.

  • Not only did residents leave the biggest cities, but those who left disproportionately had high incomes, meaning the hit to the local economies was larger than migration numbers alone might imply.

Why it matters: Even cities that don't have a local income tax depend on residents' incomes to support the local housing market, retail sales and the tax base.

Zoom in: Out-migration from Dallas County resulted in a $565 million drop in adjusted gross income.

  • Migration to Collin County resulted in a 4.7% increase in adjusted gross income from 2020 to 2021. The county added $1.3 billion in income.
  • Denton County had a similar total increase in income, accounting for a 7.2% increase.
  • Tarrant County had a slight increase of more than $119 million.

Of note: Many North Texas exurbs and rural areas saw huge increases from migration incomes. Kaufman County, for example, had a $259 million increase in income from migration.

What they're saying: "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."

What's next: The data runs through 2021, but based on other evidence, the trends may have eased but not reversed, O'Brien said.

  • Yes, but: Dallas County, which lost population between 2020 and 2021, added almost 9,000 residents between July 1, 2021, and July 1, 2022.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Dallas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Dallas stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Dallas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more