Vail Valley Voices: Tough time for jobs |

Vail Valley Voices: Tough time for jobs

Vail Homeowners Association
Vail, CO, Colorado

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report for July. The Daily publishes weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at

Eagle County employment hits five-year low: The nonseasonally adjusted Eagle County unemployment rate for May was 11.46 percent, rising steadily since the beginning of the year.

The labor force for May of 26,563 workers is at its lowest level in five years. Typically, during these years, there have been 1,500 to 2,500 more workers reported for the same month.

The exodus of workers due to the completion of major construction projects and lack of new development likely explains the drop.

Over the next six months, Vail will experience a transition from construction to service workers as newly completed projects open for business.

Eagle County real estate sales rise; discounting continues: Reported Multiple Listing Service listings by the second week of June have spiked to the highest level since last October, with 1,597 residential listings. This has become a typical inventory for the summer selling season. A year ago, there were 1,691 listings on the market, and in 2008, there were 1,529.

Contracts dipped somewhat to 196 in the same period. This is the lowest level since mid-March but a 25 percent increase in contracts from a year ago at this time.

Sales price to list ratio continues to decline. On average for the market area (East Vail to Dotsero) Realtors are seeing sales prices 18.35 percent off initial list price and 15.19 percent off the final list price.

April sales volume for Eagle County was more than $130 million, which was 5 percent off the dollar volume from April 2008 and twice that of 2009. April’s transactions were doubled from 2009. More than $11.5 million in sales of new, high-end properties occurred in Vail Village and Lionshead.

Spring flooding bigger than expected: As an example of how suddenly major public emergencies can arise, critics point to the unanticipated and unusual fury of spring flood waters that caught some local communities by surprise.

The intensity of the flow in Gore Creek, reportedly the highest in 20 years, caused the cancellation of some kayaking competitions during the Teva games.

Flood damage was limited to a few residences in East Vail, and several bridges were threatened or washed out. Damage to the Vail infrastructure is still being evaluated. Preliminary estimates are as high as $1 million that the town may have to cover out of its already lean budget.

Those trees

The Colorado governor recently came to Vail to sign a bill promoting biomass energy development as one way to rid the state of millions of acres of lodgepole pine decimated by the mountain pine-beetle epidemic.

Vail is being considered as a site for a federally funded $26 million biomass heat and electric generating plan.

The U.S. Forest Service is looking with some favor on the Vail proposal and is trying to balance the need to encourage logging to supply the plant, while giving a fair hearing to a proposal to expand wildness lands that could cause logging to become a more environmentally sensitive issue than it already is.

Biomass power generation has its critics, as recently reported in a New York Times article. Complaints include air pollution, oversized power plants and excessive logging to supply a long-term power station’s appetite for trees.

Town of Vail and Eagle County officials are continuing their proactive efforts to remove dead trees from developed areas.

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