Tuesday March 21, 2017
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the last recession. A decade ago, our economy was headed toward an economic meltdown that would eventually be dubbed the “Great Recession” because of its severity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy lost approximately 8.8 million jobs, while the gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by a whopping 5.1%1.
Yet North Texas managed to weather the Great Recession much better than other parts of the nation. Unlike in areas such as Phoenix, Southern California and South Florida, houses weren’t being built at a blistering pace in Dallas or Fort Worth.
Additionally, the diversified job market in both Dallas and Fort Worth wasn’t hammered as badly. Yes, people did lose jobs. But the unemployment rate, while high in early 2010, never reached double digits. Because the recession was less severe in North Texas, region recovered sooner, and more quickly.
DFW Jobs, By the Numbers
But let’s go back to January 2007, when the United States stood on the door of a very serious downturn. There was little to suggest in the DFW employment figures that anything was amiss. Foreclosure rates were increasing, but, at the time, it didn’t seem to be impacting jobs.
Unemployment was below 5% throughout the Metroplex, and in each Metropolitan Division (MD). The region was enjoying the fruits of economic expansion, and the unemployment rate would not actually climb above 5% until mid-2008.
Incidentally, we added January 2012 metrics because 1) it was a halfway point in the period we are discussing, and 2) it was near the end of the so-called “jobless recovery.” In the DFW region, January, 2007 was the middle of a roller-coaster ride, in which the unemployment rate swung between 6.0% and 8.2%.
Moderate Stream of Jobs
The unemployment rate tells only part of the story. The number of jobs added (job gains), along with job growth percentage, provide a good snapshot into what is happening in a particular economy. In the first month of 2007, before things would fall apart later in the year, the DFW metroplex actually was not doing too badly, adding above 80,000 jobs on an annual basis.
It was mentioned, above, that DFW continued benefiting from the economic expansion deep into 2007. And, in January, 2012, the economy still added more than 70,000 jobs.
Breaking the numbers down by Metropolitan Divisions, both Dallas and Fort Worth did a good job of steadily adding jobs. The most recent figures show Dallas adding more than 100,000 jobs to the region, while Fort Worth, which has a someone smaller employment base, added 29,800 jobs.
The Fort Worth MD also enjoyed steady job growth, hovering around 3%, in the same period. The Metroplex, as a whole, showed huge job growth from January 2007-January 2017. In recent months, the Metroplex has been adding jobs at an astounding clip to the economy.
The interesting takeaway here is that, looking back, the region had no idea it was going to be part of a huge economic downturn. However, thanks to a skeptical view of the blisteringly hot housing market, combined with a diversified economy, DFW didn’t feel the brunt of the Great Recession as much as other areas. This could, in part, explain why the region is doing so well these days.