October 30, 2020
This assessment highlights challenges and opportunities in Collin County
Communities Foundation of Texas released a new assessment in partnership with JPMorgan Chase reavealing that, while Collin County’s rapidly expanding population and young, diverse workforce is one of the region’s greatest assets, Collin County also faces many obstacles and barriers that threaten the upward mobility of many residents, including disparities by race/ethnicity, income, educational attainment, and wealth.
What this means for low-to-moderate income residents—and for people of color who are disproportionately represented in that category— is that access to health care, good paying jobs and safe neighborhoods are fundamentally interrelated, and we as a community need to grapple with the reality that it is difficult for many individuals to overcome barriers to opportunity on their own.
“While there are great opportunities in Collin County, there are also growing needs and we think it’s important to bring attention to those through data so we can work with our community to address these issues,” said Dave Scullin, president and CEO at Communities Foundation of Texas. “This assessment is about opportunity – the opportunity for us to change the trajectory of what we see now, and to ensure a future filled with opportunity for all across our region.”
While Collin County remains a community with diverse and hard-working residents, a robust employment market, and a thriving economy, early indicators on the impact of COVID-19 show that not all communities and populations in Collin County are impacted equally. The pandemic presents new challenges to long-term economic opportunity that Collin County and the entire North Texas region must address.
“Access to excellent data is the key to finding excellent approaches to close the opportunity gap in Collin County,” said Steve Hemperly, Managing Director and DFW Location Leader for JPMorgan Chase. “JPMorgan Chase is proud to support this important work by Communities Foundation of Texas and Every Texan as they address deep disparities that have been becoming more pronounced during this pandemic.”
The Collin County Economic Opportunity Assessment is a new comprehensive analysis of the region’s economic opportunity, commissioned by Communities Foundation of Texas and JPMorgan Chase. Every Texan, formerly known as the Center for Public Policy Priorities, conducted the research for the assessment. The report seeks to illustrate the challenges and define the underlying factors that threaten economic prosperity in the Collin County area.
For example, while many Collin County residents have high incomes, the suburban and rural areas of the county experience large gaps between high- and low-income earners, as well as between different demographic groups. The bottom fifth of earners (those living at or below poverty) saw a six percent decline in inflation-adjusted income over the past ten years – which means the poorest households in Collin County are sinking deeper into poverty, making it harder for them to become financially stable and thrive. While overall trends before the pandemic were pointing to a more balanced economy with better income equality, the fact that the bottom tier of households lost real income over the past decade is a cause for concern. Racial and ethnic disparities persist for poverty rates within Collin County. Hispanic residents are three times as likely to experience poverty as white residents, and twice as likely as Black or Asian residents.
In 2018, CFT released the Dallas Economic Opportunity Assessment, a comprehensive analysis of economic opportunity in Dallas County to catalyze conversations about equity, access, and outcomes across the community. “We started working with JPMorgan Chase to commission Every Texan to do this report for the Collin County community in 2019. We could not have imagined how much or how quickly things would change in just one year. While we had planned on releasing this assessment in April, we instead requested Every Texan do an update on the data this summer to help us better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Collin County to date,” said Sarah Cotton Nelson, chief philanthropy officer with Communities Foundation of Texas.
“The data in the assessment now serves as a baseline that is timelier than ever, showing Collin County’s starting point pre-pandemic. Together with new preliminary data released since March, it is our hope that the collective data will inform policy and strategies for an equitable recovery to ensure that all residents of Collin County can be healthy, well-educated, and financially secure,” said Ann Beeson, Chief Executive Officer for Every Texan, which works to strengthen public policy to expand opportunity and equity for Texans of all backgrounds.
“There is good news in this assessment. Collin County has been thriving in a number of ways, and those are strengths to build upon. There are also data points showing that not everyone has been benefiting in the same way, both before the pandemic as well as today. It is important to understand that both of these things can be true at the same time, and also to understand that this data represents real people that are our neighbors in our community,” said Sarah Cotton Nelson.
While it is too early to see the full impact of the pandemic on Collin County, the assessment provides some early economic indicators of how residents are faring in terms of employment, affected job sectors, and health insurance coverage.
Knowing that Collin County’s population growth is being driven by people of color, continued disparities in income by race and ethnicity and differences in opportunity will directly impact the overall economic security for the region.
Read the full assessment here, as well as the addendum to the data
The Collin County Economic Opportunity Assessment delves deeper into four indicators of economic opportunity and wellness: income/employment, educational attainment, debt and assets, and health. The combination of these four areas provides a multifaceted snapshot of the opportunities and challenges facing the community.
As an example, the median household income by race varies drastically in Collin County ($63,312 – Hispanic, $72,508 – Black, $102,674 – white, $118,264 – Asian). School districts in rural areas and with smaller populations have a greater proportion of economically disadvantaged students. The six largest districts have up to a third of their students qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Economically disadvantaged students are three times more likely to drop out than the average student. Disparities also exist by race and ethnicity, with Black and Hispanic students being more likely to drop out than the average. If past trends continue, only 30 percent of Collin County eighth graders will go on to earn a Texas higher education degree or certificate, and that’s only 15 percent for economically disadvantaged students. Because access to quality schools, health care, good paying jobs and safe neighborhoods are increasingly interrelated, it is more and more difficult for families to overcome barriers to opportunity on their own.
“We hope the data in this report can serve as a roadmap for where and how we can focus our efforts, and that it fuels an ongoing conversation about the opportunities as well as the challenges facing Collin County,” said Ann Beeson. “We have found ample evidence that local leaders, working in partnership with nonprofits, have the power to advance policies and programs that help families build wealth and save for the future.”
CFT held a virtual release of the assessment on October 22 and will begin meeting with business and community leaders across Collin County, in addition to hosting virtual workshops for local nonprofits to share and discuss the report’s findings.
“We want to thank JPMorgan Chase for their partnership with us in commissioning this study. We are extremely grateful for their investment and leadership in increasing economic security across our community. We share their commitment to addressing economic challenges,” said Dave Scullin. “We’re here to work side by side with our community members to tackle barriers to building a thriving community for all.”
View the assessment, addendum, policy recommendations, presentation slides and recording from the launch event here.