Pitkin County jobs stabilize | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County jobs stabilize

ASPEN – Pitkin County’s economy has stopped hemorrhaging jobs but hasn’t come close to bouncing back to pre-recession employment levels, according to statistics tracked by the state government.

Pitkin County had 1,739 businesses of all types during the third quarter of 2011. They employed 14,879 workers, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported. Numbers for the third quarter of 2011 are the latest available.

There were slightly more businesses but slightly fewer workers in the third quarter of 2010. In July, August and September of last year, there were 1,791 businesses in the county employing an average of 14,787 workers over the quarter, the state’s data shows.

The recession drastically reduced the work force of Pitkin County. In the third quarter of 2008, before the downturn took hold, there were 1,961 businesses in the county. They employed 17,127 people, the state Labor Department’s records indicate.

One year later, 12 percent of the jobs had disappeared, or 2,092 positions.

Seventy-nine businesses, or 4 percent, pulled the plug.

The latest report shows that the number of businesses has continued to decline since 2008. Employment finally stabilized in 2011 after falling in 2009 and 2010.

It’s no surprise that the construction industry was hit hardest. There were 254 construction firms based in Pitkin County in the third quarter of 2008. They employed 1,338 workers. (That doesn’t include firms based elsewhere in the Roaring Fork Valley that work primarily in Aspen and Snowmass Village.)

In the third quarter of 2011, there were 194 construction firms employing 683 workers. That’s a loss of almost half of the construction positions.

Construction jobs have continued to disappear throughout the recession and into the slow recovery. The number of jobs in the third quarter fell to 1,056 in 2009 from 1,338 the year before. The decline continued to 711 workers in third quarter 2010 and 683 in 2011.

Other major industries were a mixed bag. The state said there were 164 businesses in Pitkin County’s accommodations and food service category in the third quarter of 2008. They employed 4,024 people. Last year, the number of businesses in the category were at 155 with 4,100 workers.

On the other hand, the retail industry fared poorly. There were 239 retailers employing 1,556 workers in Pitkin County in the third quarter of 2008. By last year, the numbers shrunk to 205 businesses and 1,192 workers. That means 364 retail positions, or 23 percent, dried up.

Real estate wasn’t immune to the downsizing. There were 244 businesses in real estate, rentals and leasing in the third quarter of 2008 employing 1,348 salaried or wage workers. The numbers fell to 210 businesses with 1,158 workers in third quarter 2011.

Signs indicate Pitkin County’s employment picture overall is improving. The unemployment rate for the county was 5.4 percent in February 2012, the state labor department’s latest statistics show. That’s down from 6.1 percent in February 2011.


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