When Will Dallas Overtake Chicago?

After New York City, Chicago was the second city for many years in terms of population size. A few years ago, Los Angeles overtook Chicago for the number two slot. Chicago is now comfortably in  3rd place, but Dallas-Ft. Worth is looking to overtake the Windy City within a generation.

There are 4.3 million people with jobs in the Chicago MSA (metropolitan statistical area) today versus 2.9 million in the Dallas-Ft.Worth region. However, Dallas-Ft.Worth has been growing much faster with an annualized average job gain of 1.9% since 1990. By contrast, Chicago has grown by just 0.4% per year. Assuming these growth rates persist into the future, the crossover point occurs in 2037, when both cities will have 4.8 million workers. Dallas would then then overtake Chicago.

The real estate market implications are that Chicago will need to build 500,000 new homes from now till 2037, while Dallas needs to add nearly 2 million more homes. (Note that there is a one-to-one long-term relationship between jobs and housing stock; there are 131 million on payroll employment today and 131 million in housing stock). Proportionate increases in commercial spaces will also be needed. The other possible implication is that traffic will no doubt worsen in both cities and one of the Chicago’s beloved baseball teams may move to Dallas.


Other similar city comparisons point to Atlanta easily passing Philadelphia within a generation and Charlotte out-running Baltimore. Charlotte Orioles?

Lawrence Yun, PhD., Chief Economist and Senior Vice President

Lawrence Yun is Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at NAR. He directs research activity for the association and regularly provides commentary on real estate market trends for its 1 million REALTOR® members.

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  1. KarmaPolice

    First, not all growth is positive.

    It depends on who is moving into the area based on education, earning potential, and culture.

    The current level of gentrification occurring in Chicago is quite telling.