Local economy growing

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at

Globally, economic growth has slowed, led by China and emerging nations. More positively, European austerity measures are beginning to soften as impacts from the resulting recession persist, and the United States is showing signs of steady but slow improvement.

Growth trends in the private sector are keyed to pacing the tapering off of U.S. government stimulus expenditures, which so far seem to be constraining inflation and other adverse consequences. A key target for improvement is that unemployment within a year drops to 6.5 percent from this May’s level of 7.6 percent, which is largely dependent upon the housing market continuing to strengthen.

The Eagle County economy by these standards is nearly back on its feet. The Eagle County work force level for April of 28,935 had returned to near pre-recession 2009 levels. The April unemployment rate of 6.26 percent was the lowest for the same month since 2008 and well under the national figures. With the typical post ski season fluctuation, May’s preliminary numbers show Eagle County’s unemployment up to 9.7 percent, which is much improved over the seasonal spikes of prior post recession years.

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Winter all about the snow: The winter tourism season, taking into account a slow start due to early season drought, saw lodge occupancy increase year over year by 1 percent and average daily rate by 4 percent, according to a town of Vail report. Vail Resorts’ lodging segment company-wide reported for their fiscal third quarter a 2.3 percent increase in occupancy and 2.9 percent increase in average daily rate. Industry-wide, occupancy for the winter season increased by 4 percent and average daily rate by 3 percent.

Town of Vail lift tax collections up 13 percent over the previous season. Vail Resorts reported company-wide total skier visits increased for fiscal year second quarter (2.9 percent) and third quarter (9.1 percent), on average up 6 percent over the same two reporting periods in the prior year. Industry-wide, skier visits were up 11 percent from the 2011-12 season, according to a town report.

Town of Vail seasonal sales tax collections to date are up 4.86 percent over the prior winter season. The winter season droughts of the last couple of years showed a halving in the year-over-year percentage increase in sales tax revenues when compared with a season having stellar snow conditions like the 2010-11 winter season. A recent town of Vail report gives detailed sales tax breakdowns on how Vail Village and Lionshead businesses performed during the 12 months of the 2012-13 summer and winter season and how they are expected to perform through the coming summer.

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