EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - A few columns of numbers can say a lot, depending on how you look at them. For Nina Timm, the housing coordinator for the town of Vail, a recent report showing where the county's jobs are told the story of work that still needs to be done.
A recent report from the Economic Council of Eagle County shows where the county's jobs are and how much they pay. As you'd expect, 55.1 percent of the county's jobs are in Avon and Vail - split virtually equally between the two towns. Those jobs also pay just more than the county average of $43,300 per year.
For Timm, the report wasn't a surprise, but it points out Vail's continuing need for worker housing in town.
"Housing's not the issue it was five years ago," Timm said. "The severity of the problem ebbs and flows ... but housing will always be a challenge for the town of Vail."
The council report, culled from state data from 2011, the last full year of information available, shows an average of 7,564 jobs in Vail, a town with 5,300 full-time residents.
The vast majority of those workers commute. Timm said only about 10 percent to 12 percent of the town's workers live in deed-restricted rental or for-sale housing in town. And, she added, the majority of those who work in Vail work in service-industry jobs.
Based on data about wages, the best place in the valley to work is Edwards, where the average employee earns 114 percent of the county average. What that tells Eagle County Commissioner Jon Stavney is that a number of professional jobs - lawyers, engineers and others - are now working in the mid-valley.
That came as a bit of a surprise to Kathy Chandler-Henry, of the economic council. But, she added, the trend makes sense, since Edwards is one of the valley's main population centers, and it's generally easier to find parking there. Rents are generally lower than they are in Vail, too.
The movement of professional jobs to the mid-valley is pronounced enough that Edwards has far fewer employees but the same percentage of businesses as Vail and Avon.
So, what does all this mean?
It's hard to tell, but the picture will be more complete when Chandler-Henry is able to gather the latest data about where people live. That data, too, probably won't hold many surprises about the number of people who commute from Eagle and Gypsum - especially for those who were caught in the Feb. 13 traffic jam on Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 6 that was caused by a fatal semitruck accident that day.
Stavney said these and other numbers can guide planning for local government on items including where to put housing and how best to move people up and down the valley.
While Stavney doesn't expect to see any new employee-housing initiatives before he leaves office in early 2017, he said this and future boards do need to think about how to find land for those new units when they are proposed.
Timm, of course, will lobby for housing either in Vail or as close to it as possible.
"We're going to have to have something to recruit people to Vail," she said. "We need to be sure housing is provided where jobs exist."
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.