Rankings for DFW area a love-hate relationship

12/25/2013 3:09 PM

12/25/2013 3:10 PM

Who’s No. 1? It’s not just a sports argument anymore, from the most manly city to the best-looking citizenry, everything and everywhere lands on a top or bottom list.

And in the 2013 race for rankings, Dallas-Fort Worth scored big. We’re a hard-working, job-creating, growth machine.

Not to mention sports-loving maniacs who can also raise a giant foam finger to our No. 1 ranking for affordable housing costs.

But we also took some low blows in surveys that savaged us as not-so-attractive couch potatoes and rednecks residing in a climatological purgatory where the food is bad.

But in the standings that actually count, we got some data-driven love.

DFW once again topped the national growth chart, according to the U.S. Census Bureau figures released in March.

The Metroplex added 131,879 people, a hefty 2 percent uptick, between July 2011 and July 2012. The number to remember: Cowtown has added 243,298 residents since the 2000 Census for a total of 777,992.

Eight of the 15 fastest-growing cities were in Texas and demographer Steve Murdock of Rice University, said, yeah, we’re a fertile bunch with lots of babies joining the crowd, but what really gets moving vans rolling is jobs, jobs, jobs.

For the second year in a row, urban observers Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox of NewGeography.com ranked Fort Worth the fourth-best large city for jobs in 2013.

San Francisco jumped 16 spots from 2012 to claim No. 1. Also tops among large cities were No. 5 Houston, No. 6 Dallas, No. 10 Austin and No. 12 San Antonio.

The energy boomtowns of Midland and Odessa swapped spots as the Nos. 1 and 2 on the small cities list while San Angelo slipped one place to No. 4.

Not just any old job

The employment engine doesn’t appear to be running out of gas.

In Forbes’ list of best cities for future job growth, the Texas cities of Austin (No.1), McAllen (2), Houston (3), Fort Worth (4) and Dallas (8) crushed this top 10.

And we’re not just talking any old job.

Forbes also anointed Dallas and Fort Worth as meccas for good jobs. Texas nearly ran the table on this one, too, with Dallas, Houston, Austin and Fort Worth holding down the top four spots and San Antonio at No. 6 behind No. 5 Seattle.

Which might have something to do with Texas being on top of ChiefExecutive.net’s list of best states for business for the ninth year in a row. (How many times do you think Gov. Rick Perry mentioned that this year?)

Texas was also ranked as the fourth-best state to make a living, according to MoneyRates.com.

Apparently, elbow-grease is part of the working equation.

Movoto, a real estate site, ranked Arlington and Fort Worth the second and third hardest-working cities. Java-fueled Seattle was No. 1. Memphis slept in at the bottom, No. 50.

If you just can’t stop working, you’re in the right spot, with Fort Worth included among the 25 cities Forbes deemed the best places for a working retirement.

In another measure of economic vitality, the 2013 Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities index, Fort Worth-Arlington slipped to No. 16 from No. 10 in 2012. Austin was No. 1 followed by No. 7 Dallas, No. 8 Houston and No. 12 San Antonio.

On the other hand, employees here aren’t quite so bullish about their work prospects according to an job satisfaction report card of 50 cities compiled by the employee opinion group Glassdoor.

DFW was ranked in the bottom half of the pack at No. 28, behind No. 10 Austin and No. 19 Houston.

The happiest worker bees were in No. 1 San Jose and No. 2 San Francisco. Perhaps they are glad to go to work to get out of their tiny, overpriced apartments.

On the household balance sheet, Fort Worth workers have something to crow about: the No. 1 ranking on NerdWallet’s top 10 big cities for home ownership.

Cowtown had the lowest median home cost on the list ($200,396 for a three-bedroom home). Charlotte, N.C., was No. 2, just ahead of No. 3 San Antonio and No. 6 Austin.

Dallas is Numero Uno when it comes to sports fans, according to NerdWallet, though we must quibble that they failed to include the FW with the Big D on the trophy.

The Cowboys haven’t been to the Super Bowl since the last century but they remain America’s Team, according to a Harris Poll. This came out in October, so there might have been some downward movement since then.

NewGeography.com ranked DFW (they get it) No. 11 on its list of 15 aspirational cities that feature both jobs and culture without costing an arm and leg to live there. No. 1 Austin led the Texas pack that also featured No. 3 Houston and No. 9 San Antonio.

How do you spell redneck?

But the City of Cows also stepped in some stuff that the Chamber of Commerce won’t be picking up in next year’s brochures.

You might not have read this one, but Fort Worth was No. 52 in an annual literacy ranking of 76 cities by Central Connecticut State University. No Texas town cracked the top 25 book except Austin.

Movoto, the California-based site that pegged Fort Worth and Arlington as hard-working cities, also lumped them together as the Nos. 6 and 7 most redneck burgs. They obviously did not make the connection between working outside and a tanned neck.

The criteria used in the redneck formula for success: per capita number of cowboy boot stores, gun stores, riding lawn mower repair shops, NASCAR tracks, Walmarts and taxidermists per capita. Oh, and high school graduation rates (see literacy rate above).

Whatever, Fort Worth should have won this one outright just for having the world’s largest honky-tonk.

If those Movoto types ever get to Billy Bob’s, they might want to watch who they ask to dance because Fort Worth is the second most manly city in all the land. Our testosterone levels were only exceeded by Charlotte, according to the Liveability.com ranking of manliness. NASCAR also figured in this race.

Speaking of hormones, Fort Worth is the sixth-best city for single men, says NerdWallet which also declared Dallas as the 10th best city for single women. Maybe Arlington should hold a date night.

Movoto also fried Fort Worth as the sixth-worst city for food lovers. Just a guess, but they might not like Tex-Mex: Garland, El Paso, Laredo and Corpus Christi were also in this bottom 10.

Check. They also decided Fort Worth was the ninth-most unhealthy city.

They’ll be back next year

As usual, DFW’s biggest beat down was administered in Travel + Leisure’s annual America’s Favorite Cities survey of travelers.

Out of the dozens of categories, the Metroplex only managed top 10 showings in sports, sports fans, sports bars, luxury stores and barbecue categories. Strangely, there was no chicken-fried steak category.

The travelers ranked DFW 34th, or next to last to Phoenix for summer weather, Salt Lake City for offbeat and Las Vegas for environmental friendliness.

The travel snobs also plunked the Metroplex into the bottom 10 for nearly every other weather-related category. Note to visitors: Yes, it’s hot as Hades here between tornadoes and ice storms, but it’s nice the rest of the year.

Most hurtful were our catfish-like, bottom-feeder rankings for attractiveness, athleticism, smarts, food, friendliness and, well, just about everything else.

Here’s what we think might have happened: Those people came here for job interviews and missed the cut. We won’t hold it against them when they reapply next year.

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