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January 27, 2013
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Thousands of jobs in region lost, still not regained since recession

ASPEN - The economies of Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties picked up a little steam in 2012, but the tri-county area still has thousands of jobs less than in 2007, before the recession struck, according to data from the Colorado Department of Labor.

Pitkin County had 236 fewer business establishments and 1,720 fewer workers in the second quarter of 2012 compared to the same point in 2007, the labor department's statistics show. That represents a loss of almost 11 percent of the jobs. Second quarter 2012 data is the latest available.

Pitkin County had 1,966 business establishments employing 15,879 workers in 2007. Those numbers plummeted to 1,730 businesses and 14,159 workers last year.

Meanwhile, average weekly wages have lost ground. The average amount for all employees making a wage or salary was $828 in 2007. That dropped to $804 per week by 2012.

Among the counties comprising the Roaring Fork Valley, recovery from the recession has been slowest in Eagle County, the labor department's statistics show. Between the second quarter 2007 and 2012, Eagle County lost 447 business establishments and 4,188 workers, according to the labor department.

The number of businesses in Eagle County fell from 3,614 in 2007 to 3,167 last year. Meanwhile, employment fell from 30,441 to 26,253 last year. That is a loss of nearly 14 percent.

Average weekly wages in Eagle County nosed up from $747 per week in 2007 to $754, according to the labor department.

Garfield County's job losses were between those of its neighbors. Garfield County has lost 300 establishments and 2,751 jobs since second quarter 2007.

Garfield County had 2,853 establishments in 2007 and 27,274 jobs, according to the labor department. That fell to 2,553 firms employing 24,523 people last year.

The average weekly wage in Garfield County increased $52 per week despite the loss of jobs, the data showed. The average weekly wage was $778 in 2007 and $830 last year.

The construction industry was decimated by the recession in the three counties. In 2007, construction of second homes carried the economies of Pitkin and Eagle counties while firms working with the oil-and-gas industry ruled the day in Garfield County.

Between the three counties, there were 535 fewer construction companies in the second quarter of 2012 compared to 2007 and a staggering 5,455 fewer workers, according to the labor department.

Eagle County lost 2,800 construction jobs. Garfield County lost 2,087. Pitkin County lost another 568 construction jobs.

In Pitkin County, retail shops and the real estate industry were other losers over the five-year period. Retail was employing 357 fewer people than in 2007 while real estate sales, leasing and rentals were employing 143 fewer workers, the statistics show.

Accommodations and food service continue to grow in Pitkin County. That sector of the economy has added 168 positions since pre-recession days and now employs a total of 3,550, according to the labor department.">class="NormalParagraphStyle">

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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 27, 2013 08:49AM Published Jan 27, 2013 01:59AM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.