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Vails labor crunch not unique

Allen BestVail, CO Colorado

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Winter is a slower time in the economy of Jackson Hole than is summer. Thats why its all the more concerning to employers there that they cant find enough hired hands to clean the sheets, wash the dishes and do all the other tasks in a service-oriented tourism economy.Sharpening the tension, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide, is the fact that the federal cap on H2B temporary worker visas was reached on Jan. 3, well in advance of Jacksons high season. That leaves some employers considering recruitment from Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, where visas are unnecessary. Others may use J1 student visas.The wages are relatively high, about $14 for many jobs as housekeepers. A business owner, who spoke to the newspaper only on the condition of anonymity, said he takes whatever document prospective workers give him.Now I just have everyone complete I-9s, show me their drivers licenses and Social Security cards, he said. We all know theyre not legal, but we look the other way.The business owner estimated that his Mexican workers make $4,000 to $7,000 a month.Would higher wages draw U.S. citizens? Mark Walker, a restaurateur, thinks not, but he also says he can only pay so much. You cant pay $30 (per hour) for unskilled labor.

BANFF, Alberta A handful of celebrities the actors Alec Baldwin and Kelsey Grammar and politicians sons Justin Trudeau and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gathered on a recent weekend at Sunshine Village, a ski resort near Banff, to talk about water. In a curious but direct way, there was a connection to Colorado.The event, says the Rocky Mountain Outlook, was sponsored by an organization called WaterCan, which believes that Canada must tighten up its water uses.We are the highest per capita users of water in the world. No one uses more water per day than Canadians, said Trudeau. There is, he added, the mistaken notion that Canada has lots of fresh water.It does, but it also has many uses, and those uses are expanding. Among the large new uses for water is in extraction of oil from tar sands in Alberta. A healthy portion of that oil is shipped by pipeline to a refinery in Denver, where it is processed for sale at Phillips- and Conoco-branded gas stations, which are common in the mountain valleys of Colorado. Suncor has about one-third of the market share in Colorado.


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