Wednesday's report about the marked decline in area, state and national median income may not have come as any surprise to people who think about such matters ("New arrivals fuel drop in incomes," The Dallas Morning News, Wednesday, August 30, 2006, 1A). However, it did help explain the dramatic growth in individuals and families who show up at places like Central Dallas Ministries seeking assistance, opportunity and better living situations.
In our Resource Centers from May through July 2005 year we served 8,000 families. This year during the same period, we served 13,000.
From 1999 until 2005, median income (when adjusted for inflation) for Dallas County fell from $50,750 to 42,598, a 16.1% decline. Collin county, once among the wealthiest in the nation, saw median income drop by almost 15% over the same period. Nationally median income fell 6%. In Texas median income fell almost 10%. According to the latest census numbers, Texas is now the 5th poorest state in the nation.
The article I read focused on the growing number of poor people who are migrating to the Dallas area as the chief explanation for the drop in incomes. Other factors include loss of higher paying jobs, layoffs and the overall growth of poverty--up to 13% in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2005 from 10.8%
Robust population growth in the area continues to offset the decline in median household income for the economy as a whole. So, purchases are up and, along with them, sales tax revenues. The upscale businesses continue to thrive and the million dollar plus homes continue to be built at a record pace.
Translation: the gap between rich and poor in our area continues to widen.
Wages from the middle to the bottom remain basically static or worse. The escalation of gasoline prices, utility bills, consumer goods, health care and housing costs increase the downward pressure on the poor.
Our times demonstrate conclusively that poverty is primarily the result of systemic forces beyond the control of the poor themselves.
Poverty continues its growth, taking in more and more American families and children.
If you are in a house of worship this weekend, listen carefully to see if the issue is even mentioned. I'd love a report next week.
[To read the full report in The Dallas Morning News, go to: