NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 14, 2008

People in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex are less educated than nearly three quarters of the nation's 100 largest cities, according to research by Bizjournals.  Dallas-Fort Worth ranks 72nd of 100 in "Metropolitan brainpower ratings," with 9.3 percent of residents holding a graduate and/or professional degree and 21.1 percent with a bachelor's degree.

Dallas comes in low educationally because it is a gateway for migration from Central and South America, says Lyssa Jenkens, chief economist at the Greater Dallas Chamber.


  • About 55 percent of Metroplex residents without high school diplomas are foreign-born-adults, which skews the educational statistics.
  • It's the immigrant population -- new arrivals age 25 and over -- that has disproportionate numbers of people with a below-high school education.

The study's objective was to identify those metros that have the highest levels of collective brainpower, as indicated by their residents' educational attainment.  The payoff is evident in recent economic statistics:

  • Madison, Wis., which topped the list, has a per capita income of $38,993, 13 percent higher than the national average.
  • Its 2007 year-end unemployment rate of 3.3 percent was far better than the nation's 5 percent.

A recent federal report shows that a worker holding a doctorate will earn 70 percent more, on average, than a colleague with a bachelor's degree and 215 percent more than someone who never progressed beyond high school.

Source: Lauren D'Avolio and Scott Thomas, "D-FW Fails To Get Top Grade in Smart Cities Listing," Dallas Business Journal, May 9, 2008.

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