September 2023 Jobs Report Update for Eagle & Pitkin Counties and the Roaring Fork Valley

Avant Garde Aspen

The September 2023 Regional Economic Update has just been released, offering a comprehensive overview of the economic landscape in the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) Region. This update presents the latest jobs and wages data, shedding light on the economic performance of the six counties in the region: Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Pitkin, Routt, and Summit. With the region heavily reliant on tourism, let's dive into the key findings and insights from the Q1 2023 data.

Tourism Dominates the Job Market

As expected, the NWCCOG Region's economic engine is tourism, with the accommodations & food services and arts, entertainment, recreation sectors leading the way, accounting for a significant 26% and 12% of all jobs, respectively. These sectors thrive due to the region's natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities.
Retail trade, another critical component supporting tourism, follows closely behind, constituting 11% of all jobs. While healthcare, construction, and public administration sectors also contribute to the region's employment, they are smaller in comparison, making up 7%, 7%, and 6% of jobs, respectively.

Q1 2023 Regional Snapshot

  • Total Jobs: The region currently boasts 106,204 jobs, with a year-over-year change of +4,252, indicating a healthy 4.2% growth rate.
  • Total Establishments: The number of establishments has reached 12,345, with a year-over-year increase of +685.
  • Labor Force: The labor force stands at 96,191 as of August 2023, experiencing a year-over-year growth of +4.0%.
  • Regional Unemployment Rate: In August 2023, the unemployment rate in the region was a commendable 2.7%, albeit showing a slight year-over-year increase of +0.5%.

Wage Disparities Across Counties

When it comes to wages, disparities across the six counties are evident. Pitkin County leads the pack with an annual wage of $73,736, while Jackson County reports the lowest at $42,900. It's important to note that all counties in the region have average annual wages below the state average of $81,068.
Pitkin, Eagle, and Routt Counties all report annual wages higher than the U.S. average of $57,200. However, Summit, Grand, and Jackson Counties fall below both the state and national averages. These differences reflect the varying economic dynamics within the NWCCOG Region.

A Closer Look at Pitkin County

Pitkin County stands out as a beacon of economic prosperity in the region. With 42% of all jobs related to tourism, it's no surprise that tourism is the county's main economic driver. Pitkin County exhibits strong job growth both in the short-term (6.3% year-over-year) and long-term (10% over the last decade).
The county's average annual wage of $73,736 surpasses the U.S. average but falls short of the state average. Wage growth in Pitkin County has been substantial, with a remarkable increase of 9.8% over the past year and a staggering 69.8% over the last decade. The unemployment rate remains impressively low at 2.6%, though it has inched up slightly compared to the previous year. Pitkin County's total labor force stands at 11,068 as of August 2023, showing a slight year-over-year increase of +395.

Eagle County's Economic Strength

Eagle County, too, is a significant player in the NWCCOG Region's economy, with 36,437 jobs. The tourism and outdoor recreation sector accounts for 36% of these jobs, with 23% in accommodations & food services and 13% in arts, entertainment, and recreation. The county reports a robust 12.2% year-over-year job increase.
Eagle County's annual average wage of $63,024 exceeds the U.S. average but falls short of the state average. Wage growth in the county has been impressive, with a year-over-year increase of 12.8% and a remarkable 63.6% over the past decade. The unemployment rate remains exceptionally low at 2.6% as of August 2023, though it has inched up slightly from the previous year. The county's workforce has grown by 1,223 year over year.
The September 2023 Regional Economic Update for the NWCCOG Region provides a detailed insight into the economic performance of the six counties. While tourism remains the driving force, each county has its unique economic characteristics and challenges. As the region continues to grow and evolve, these updates serve as valuable tools for policymakers, businesses, and residents alike to make informed decisions and chart the path forward for sustainable economic development.

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