Roaring Fork Valley jobs lag pre-recession levels |

Roaring Fork Valley jobs lag pre-recession levels

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
There's an uptick in construction activity in the Aspen area
Lauren Glendenning/The Aspen Times |


2001: 31,396

2005: 33,635

2008: 37,012

2011: 31,913

2013: 33,500

Source: Economic and Planning Services Inc., Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

Despite an improving economy, the Roaring Fork Valley hasn’t come close to recovering all the jobs it provided before the 2008 recession, according to a new report commissioned by Basalt.

The Roaring Fork Valley provided 33,500 jobs in 2013, according to Denver consulting firm Economic and Planning Systems Inc. The company plotted growth and losses of jobs from 2001 through 2013 using the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. The census uses payroll data so it’s a good gauge of wage and salary jobs.

The jobs report shows a couple of trends. First, the Roaring Fork labor market has bounced back since bottoming out in 2010 and 2011. The number of jobs fell to 31,925 in 2010 and 31,913 the following year — the lowest since 2003, the data shows.

Valley businesses added 755 jobs for growth of about 2.3 percent in 2012, when the economy started showing signs of life. Total valley-wide employment increased to 32,688.

Another 812 jobs were added in 2013 for growth of 2.4 percent. There were 33,500 jobs valley-wide in 2013, the report said. Statistics for 2014 aren’t available yet.

On the other hand, employment is finally catching up to the 2005 level despite the recent recovery. The valley’s economy — led by real estate sales and development — superheated in the mid-2000s. The economy added 1,582 jobs in 2006 for growth of 4.4 percent. Another 1,000 jobs were added in 2007 and employment peaked in 2008 at 37,012, said the report by Economic and Planning Systems.

Compared to the peak, there were 3,512 fewer people employed in 2013. That was a loss of 9.4 percent of the jobs in just five years.

The trend hit every town in the valley, according to the report. Businesses in Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Snowmass Village all employ fewer people than in 2008.

Aspen fell from a peak of 12,734 people employed in 2008 to 11,770 in 2013. Essentially, one out of every 13 jobs disappeared during the recession.

From pre-recession 2007 to 2013, there are 589 fewer jobs in Aspen; 684 fewer jobs in Basalt; 536 fewer positions in Carbondale; 156 fewer in Glenwood Springs; and 15 fewer in Snowmass Village, according to the firm’s analysis.

“Between 2001 and 2013, major industry shifts have occurred in the valley — regionally, just over 2,000 net new jobs were added to the Roaring Fork Valley’s economy,” Economic and Planning Systems reported. “Underneath this trend, however, major shifts have occurred.

“They valley experienced a net loss of 1,800 construction jobs (300 of which were in Basalt), a loss of over 400 retail jobs (although Basalt a 100 job increase), a loss of over 400 manufacturing and wholesale jobs, as well as a loss of 270 IT jobs (but Basalt gained 45 IT jobs),” the report continued.

The jobs data was released Monday as part of a broader study of affordable housing needs for Basalt. The report was scheduled to be released to the Town Council Tuesday night.

Economic Planning Systems said the biggest areas of job growth in the valley from 2001 through 2013 were accommodations, which added almost 1,100 jobs, and health care, which added 1,050. Nearly 800 jobs were added in administrative and support services, according to the report. The real estate industry added 480 jobs valley-wide from 2001 through 2013.

The study said that low-wage jobs account for 46 percent of the valley’s total jobs. Low-wage jobs tend to be in service-related industries such as agriculture, retail, administrative services, arts and entertainment, and accommodations. The percentage of low-wage jobs has remained steady in the valley since 2001.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.