Vail Daily column: The state of the economy | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: The state of the economy

How’s our local economy doing as we head into ski season?

Vail Valley Economic Development (an initiative of Vail Valley Partnership) tracks a variety of economic trends for the benefit of our business community and local governments, and good progress continues to be been made on most of the economic indicators. Average weekly wages have come up by 3.1 percent and average earnings per job by 3.8 percent. Average earnings per job closed the gap against the statewide average, but the average weekly wage gap increased slightly. Net new jobs has also come up by 2 percent and has further closed the gap between 2013 and 2008.

Earnings are a good indicator of local economic strength, but as a tourism economy we also depend on sales tax growth. Strong growth was seen in county sales tax collections, which grew by 7.8 percent between 2013 and 2014 (and the gap between 2014 and 2008 county sales tax collections decreased by 6.8 percent this past year to 4.4 percent).

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

This translates to a good situation for local residents who are looking for work, with the unemployment rate for Eagle County becoming relatively low and the elevated stress score in the positive end of the spectrum.

Additionally, the annual unemployment rate came down 1.9 percent and the number of individuals who are unemployed in Eagle County came down by 29 percent. It’s important to note that the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment revised its historical labor force statistics and now shows that the size of the labor force in 2010, and every year thereafter, was higher than in 2008. However, the number of individuals who are employed did not reach 2008 levels until 2014.

Economic stress, which looks at the balance between year-over-year changes in the number employed and changes in the size of the labor force, indicates that the Eagle County job climate is favoring further reductions in unemployment. As unemployment drops further, the county will likely have to seek individuals from outside to fill vacant positions and/or grow the size of the local labor force. Unlike the other indicators, economic stress is ideally around or slightly above zero, which indicates that the labor force is growing at about the same pace as are available jobs. Under conditions when higher unemployment is occurring, however, a larger positive stress score is sought because it shows that available jobs are being filled by the existing labor force rather than by bringing in individuals from outside.

This translates to a good situation for local residents who are looking for work, with the unemployment rate for Eagle County becoming relatively low and the elevated stress score in the positive end of the spectrum. If the trend continues into 2015, we will hope to see increases in the size of the labor force to remain in balance with job creation.

Complete economic indicator reports and various other economic and demographic data can be accessed at VailValleyMeans Business.com (simply click on data center for quick access to research and reports).

While the data and numbers outlined above are mostly positive heading into the winter season, keep in mind there are numerous resources available to both employers as well as job seekers in Colorado, including our state Workforce Centers.

ECONOMIC VITALITY

In our region, the Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium strives to make sure that every Colorado business has access to a skilled workforce and every Coloradan has access to meaningful employment, resulting in statewide economic vitality. This is done through the professional services offered at the Workforce Centers (including one in Edwards).

FREE SERVICES

Colorado’s Workforce Centers provide a variety of free services to assist employers and job seekers alike. These include: job listings, computer and Internet access, career counseling and training for job seekers, recruitment of workers, pre-screening and referral services, tax credits and training reimbursement for employers, and customers can choose either self-service or staff-assisted options to meet their employment needs.

It’s a good tool and a great starting place to address the needs of our workforce, both for the employees as well as the employers.

WINTER JOB FAIR

Vail Valley Partnership is happy to partner with the Colorado Workforce Center and Colorado Mountain College to host a Winter Job Fair on Nov. 5 from noon to 3:30 p.m. at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. The cost to businesses is just $44 for a full table and $22 for a half table (and all fees are being used to promote the event to job seekers). To register, contact the Edwards Workforce Center at 970-926-4440 or via email at cdle_edwards_wfc@state.co.us.

CONNECT WITH RESOURCES

Don’t be left on the sidelines with open positions this winter; be sure to connect with community resources. As unemployment remains low, it remains important for businesses to get the word out through resources including the Workforce Center and the upcoming job fair.

Chris Romer is the president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.