Vail Valley workers at small end of wage scale. Local paychecks lag behind state, region | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley workers at small end of wage scale. Local paychecks lag behind state, region

EAGLE — Eagle County's workers earn more than $11,000 less annually than their counterparts across the state.

At $47,736 a year, local workers are also paid $7,696 less than the $55,432 workers in Pitkin County are paid, according to data compiled by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.

Workers in every one of the 10 counties studied are being paid significantly less than the state average of $58,916 annually.

"Anyone who has been looking for workers knows it's a tight market," said Jon Stavney, Northwest Colorado Council of Governments executive director.

The data was compiled from Colorado Department of Labor and Employment data from two regions:

• Rural Resort Workforce Region: Eagle, Garfield, Lake, Pitkin and Summit counties.

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• Northwest Workforce Region: Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties.

According to that data, 36,125 Eagle County workers are chasing 31,775 jobs. That's 2.3 percent unemployment. Rio Blanco has the region's highest unemployment, 4 percent.

"We talking about effectively full employment," Stavney said.

What it takes to live here

If you're an adult living on your own in Eagle County, then you need to earn at least $26,294 to survive here. If you're two adults with two children, then you need to earn $72,876 before taxes, according to MIT's Living Wage Calculator.

Like money and other things, workers tend to roll downhill, especially from Lake County, where the annual average wage is $36,296.

"It's no mystery why people from Lake County migrate downhill," Stavney said.

With the winter hiring season approaching, some major employers around the region are bumping up wages.

During a Thursday, March 9, earnings call, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said that company will increase its minimum wage in the United States from $11 per hour to $12.25 per hour.

In Aspen, the minimum hourly wage for Aspen Skico employees will be $13.50, up from $12 last season.

"We are trying to attract and retain good people," said Aspen Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle, adding that the company continues to offer benefits, including a ski pass, health insurance and deep retail discounts. "A lot of this is due to the marketplace. … There are not a lot of employees out there."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.