Workers plentiful in tight job market |

Workers plentiful in tight job market

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

Vail Valley, Colorado – The economic downturn has changed the way Vail businesses think – a look through the paper’s classified section is the most obvious example.

The classified ad listings in the Vail Daily from Nov. 6 to 12 listed 210 employment ads for the week – in 2007, there were 1,810 listings during the same week and 515 listings the same week in 2008.

Some local businesses appear to be playing the wait-and-see game. Some are waiting for snow, while others are waiting for an economic uptick before they make any big hiring decisions.

Greg Caretto, one of the owners of Nova Guides, a local snowmobiling and rafting tour business, said his strategy is based around snow. When he sees a foot and a half of snow on the ground, then he hires people to come to work.

He’s been in town 35 years and said he’s seen it all. While the economy seems to be on everyone’s radar, he’s still thinking positively, he said.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

“It doesn’t matter what’s going on, I’m always watching the bottom line,” he said. “It’s the same as any year.”

Vail Resorts has fewer positions posted compared with previous ski seasons due to the economic landscape, said Vail Resorts spokeswoman Jen Brown. The company has grown each year, so Brown couldn’t give an “apples to apples” comparison, she said.

The ski company generally hires the same number of seasonal positions, she said, and is training staff now as it always has in the past. The seasonal workers are on limited schedules at the beginning of the season until the company’s entire mountain operations are open, which is the same procedure as any year, Brown said.

Vail Resorts also is hiring more domestic workers than ever, most of whom are from Colorado, said Kelly Ladyga, a company spokeswoman. The company is hiring 70 percent fewer international workers this season, she said.

On Bridge Street, Vendetta’s Italian Restaurant owner John Brennen said he has a huge stack of applications – about 10 each for every type of job at the restaurant. He feels for people looking for work because there just aren’t enough jobs this year, he said.

Brennen said most of his staff is the same as last year, meaning there are fewer openings, if any. He’s waiting to see what the winter will bring but, for now, said he’s “hardly doing any hiring.”

“It’s kind of sad because I know all of these people are looking for work,” he said. “It’s very, very tough.”

Down the street at Surefoot, a ski-boot shop, Steve Wolf said most of his workers are returning from last year, too. He said he’s planning to run with a couple fewer employees than last year, so he, too, isn’t likely to hire workers anytime soon.

Michael Kurz, president of the Vail Valley Partnership, said most of the businesses in the partnership are replacing any workers they’ve lost, but he’s not aware of any new hiring.

“My personal observations are that the job market is still very tight,” Kurz said.

The Colorado Workforce Center in Edwards, a state-run, free employment agency, reports more people looking for work than in the past, with job openings way down from last year. The jobs the agency does have listed are mostly for hospitality positions, mainly in hotels, but construction jobs are almost nonexistent. Many workers are leaving the area because of the job shortage, said an agency spokeswoman.

The amount of rental housing available is another sign that jobs are tight. There’s more than twice as many rental listings in the classified section as there were the same week in 2007, when jobs were plentiful. There were 856 rentals ads Nov. 6 to 12 in 2007, which increased to 1,276 in 2008. This year, there were 1,912 rental ads for the same week.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

Support Local Journalism