Dallas vs. Oklahoma City: Where is the Grass Greener?

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Dallas-vs-OKC-where-is-the-grass-greenerFor business owners considering growth into one of these key markets, it’s essential to understand the potential of each location.  Did you know that Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is 62 percent larger than Dallas, Texas?  (By square miles anyway).  Conversely, the population of Dallas is more than twice that of Oklahoma City.  Talk about traffic nightmares!  To a degree, Oklahoma City is still a wide open space and Dallas is a bustling metropolis.  What does this mean from an employment perspective?  These two cities are barely 200 miles apart and share many regional attributes, but have significant differences as well.


Dallas is Forbes’ 5th ranked metro area for new jobs, and continues to attract many new and notable companies such as Toyota to the DFW area.  Between September 2015 and September 2016, Dallas ranked first in rate of job growth and second in number of jobs added among the top 10 metropolitan areas in the country.  Dallas benefits from the growing economies of neighboring cities of Plano, Irving, and Fort Worth.  Plano actually has the 2nd highest median annual salary (adjusted for cost of living) of any city in the U.S.  However, it is also tied for the greatest amount of time spent working and commuting.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the sectors of employment in Dallas that exceed the national average are in industries such as Mathematics and Computer, Business and Financial Operations, Office and Administrative Support, Sales, and Transportation.  There is great diversity in the range of industries represented in Dallas, and nearly all of them have a higher mean hourly wage than the national average.  Overall, Dallas’ mean hourly wage is about 1 percent greater than the national average.  Taking these numbers into account means that Dallas offers many well-paying jobs spanning a variety of sectors.

Oklahoma City

The same data for Oklahoma City shows that Oklahoma City is heavily reliant on energy sector jobs and is more greatly impacted by fluctuations in the price of oil and natural gas.  The recent loss nationwide of 250,000 jobs in the energy sector was a big factor in Oklahoma City dropping to 37th on Forbes’ list of metro area new job growth.  Overall, Oklahoma City’s mean hourly wage is about 8 percent below the national average. The most highly represented sectors of employment in Oklahoma City are Management, Architecture & Engineering, Construction & Extraction and Installation, Maintenance and Repair.  Almost all of these sectors are impacted by the ebb and flow in the energy industry.

At first glance, it might appear that Oklahoma City doesn’t have much going for it in comparison to Dallas.  After all, there are more jobs paying higher wages, spanning a more diverse range of industries in Dallas, right?  Not so fast!  Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Oklahoma City consumer prices are 3.58 percent lower than Dallas, rent in Oklahoma City is 36.49 percent lower than Dallas, and restaurant prices are 15.65 percent lower.

How do you feel about traffic jams?  Oklahoma City commuters enjoy an average commute time ranging between 15 and 19 minutes.  Dallas folks get to be in their cars nearly twice as long, with an average commute time of 30-34 minutes!  And remember, Oklahoma City is 62 percent bigger than Dallas.  So, it’s taking those folks in Dallas longer times to go shorter distances than the Okies up north.


From a cultural perspective, both cities historically tend toward conservative, but recently, Dallas’ population has leaned more to the liberal, or at least moderate, side of the scale.  This could be partially due to the fact that the average age of a Dallas resident is 30 years old, nearly 7 years younger than the average age of an Oklahoma City resident.

What does all this mean?  Dallas and Oklahoma City have many differences in their employment opportunities, corporate cultures, and lifestyles.  Understanding the various qualities of any city is an important consideration for an employer trying to build his business.  Partnering with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) that understands the community, the job market and all the quirks of a city can help a business owner build his company into one of the best places to work in that city!

Contact the author directly at sue.rodzon@staffone.com.

Image: Anthony Totah