Employment numbers fall | AspenTimes.com

Employment numbers fall

Scott Condon

The Aspen area’s economy still hasn’t fully recovered from the slump that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America, according to a report by the state government.The number of people employed by businesses based in Pitkin County fell for the second straight year in 2003, according to the report by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.When the economy went south in late 2001 and stayed flat throughout 2002, many Roaring Fork Valley businesses made do with fewer workers. There were about 500 fewer people employed in Pitkin County in 2002 as in 2001.Statistics recently released by the labor department show there was another decline in jobs last year. The average annual employment by all private sector businesses and government agencies in Pitkin County during 2002 was 15,614. That dipped to 15,506 last year.Although there are signs that the construction industry is bouncing back this year, it was still hurting through 2003, according to the latest statistics available.In 2001 there were 1,437 people employed by construction firms that were based in Pitkin County. That number fell 9.5 percent to 1,298 in 2002.It dropped another 10.5 percent last year to 1,158, according to the labor department’s report.Retail down; government upAspen’s retail sector also continued to shrink, in terms of people employed, in 2003. There were 258 retail businesses in Pitkin County employing 1,802 people in 2001.The number of retail businesses dropped to 248 the following year and the number of employees fell 6 percent to 1,689.Retail shrunk further last year to 242 establishments with an average annual work force of 1,616.The public sector is one of the few parts of the local economy that employs more people now than it did prior to 9/11. Average annual employment by local, state and federal government agencies in 2001 was 1,668.That grew modestly to 1,684 employees by the next year. It grew by another 6 percent last year to 1,791 local, state and federal government workers in Pitkin County, according to the state report.Construction hurt in GarcoIn Garfield County, total employment last year was higher than it was prior to 9/11. However, the construction industry still hadn’t bounced back through 2003.The total number of private and public sector employees in Garfield County dipped from 19,865 in 2001 to 19,830 in 2002. It climbed to 20,055 last year, according to the state report.However, the number of workers employed by the construction industry continued to fall. There were 3,524 construction workers in 2001. There were 390 fewer construction jobs in 2002, a loss of 11 percent.There was a loss of another 4.5 percent, or 143 jobs in the construction industry last year, the report showed.Some of the loss in construction has been offset by more jobs in the mining and gas extraction industries. State data shows 101 more people were employed in those areas last year than in 2001, brining the total employed in those fields to 402.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com