Valley’s work force soars with construction boom |

Valley’s work force soars with construction boom

The sizzling real estate market and frenetic pace of construction fueled a surge in the size of the Roaring Fork Valley’s work force last year.Pitkin County’s work force grew in 2005 after three years of stagnation, according to statistics from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.Businesses of all types employed 15,918 people in Pitkin County during the third quarter of 2001. When the economy tanked after Sept. 11, 2001, the size of the work force fell, and it remained flat in 2002 through 2004.Last year, Pitkin County’s number of workers hit 16,385 during the third quarter, thanks in large part to the real estate industry.Real estate companies reported average employment of 1,008 throughout the third quarter of 2001. By the third quarter of last year, employment surged to 1,246.In Garfield County, the construction industry paved the way for a dramatic turnaround in the size of the work force. At the time of Sept. 11, construction firms in Garfield County employed 3,804 people. By the third quarter of the following year, the number fell 12.5 percent to 3,325.The construction industry took further lumps in 2003 and 2004. By the third quarter of 2004 the industry employed 3,157 people.That changed abruptly and dramatically in 2005. The work force in construction skyrocketed to 3,688, an increase of 17 percent in one year.As a result, the total number of people on the payroll of Garfield County businesses increased dramatically during the four-year period. In the third quarter of 2001, Garfield County businesses employed 20,729. That jumped to 23,631 last year, an increase of 14 percent.Statistics are available only through September of last year.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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