In Vail, September jobs report outlook hopeful as most growth was from leisure, hospitality, retail |

In Vail, September jobs report outlook hopeful as most growth was from leisure, hospitality, retail

Meadow Drive in Vail Village on Tuesday. Retail accounted for the second highest growth sector in the U.S. Department of Labor's September jobs report, with 142,000 new jobs created.
John LaConte |

The leisure and hospitality sector of the United States workforce is currently at September 2010 levels, employing about 13 million people.

Retail is currently at 2013 levels, employing about 15,189,000 people.

Both sectors are up in September over August, according to an Oct. 2 report from the U.S. Department of Labor.

While the slow growth in other sectors might not make for good headlines in other parts of the U.S., the fact that leisure/hospitality and retail are the leading job creators across the country is good news in Vail, where the local economy lives and dies based on those sectors.

A spokesperson from Vail Resorts, the area’s largest employer, said the companywide layoffs across the marketing department at the end of September only affected a handful of positions here in Eagle County.

“Five marketing employees had their roles eliminated and were not immediately offered new roles,” said John Plack, the senior communications manager for Vail and Beaver Creek.

But the company is still hiring, added Plack, including in the marketing department where there was an open position as of this week.

Mom and pop shops

A Vail Resorts round of layoffs in August saw 43 employees from Vail issued job separations, five from on the mountain and 38 from lodging and retail; and 12 people in Beaver Creek, all from retail and miscellaneous operations.

While some shops will likely be shuttered for the season — the VR-owned Arc’teryx shop in Lionshead is likely to remain closed — others are ramping up for winter operations, including the town’s few remaining mom-and-pop shops.

Local mother and Battle Mountain High School graduate Stephanie McCarthy recently purchased Blitz Clothing Boutique on Meadow Drive in Vail. She said she’s excited about this season.

“We have several open positions right now,” she said.

2010 levels

Of the approximately 661,000 new jobs created in the U.S. in September, roughly 318,000 came from leisure and hospitality, and 142,000 came from retail trade.

In September of 2011, the leisure and hospitality sector employed roughly 13,395,000 people. At that same time in 2012, it employed 13,804,000. The sector continued to see growth every year through 2019; and by February of 2020, 16,867,000 people were employed in leisure and hospitality. By April, that number had been slashed in half, however, with more than 8 million jobs lost.

A graph showing all employees, by the thousands, in the leisure and hospitality sector (seasonally adjusted) over the last 10 years.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The 318,000 leisure and hospitality jobs added in September pushed the sector past the 13 million mark, up from 12,709,000 in August.

In September, about 200,000 new hires or rehires occurred in food services and drinking places, but employment in food services and drinking places still remains down quite a bit.

“Despite job growth totaling 3.8 million over the last 5 months, employment in food services and drinking places is down by 2.3 million since February,” The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted in a report published Tuesday.

In the retail sector, clothing and clothing accessories stores accounted for about one-fourth of the over-the-month change.

“Notable employment increases also occurred in general merchandise stores (+20,000), motor vehicle and parts dealers (+16,000), and health and personal care stores (+16,000),” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted on Oct. 2.

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