Report: Routt County economy improving |

Report: Routt County economy improving

Jack Weinstein

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— The most recent Fast Facts report compiled by Yampa Valley Data Partners indicates the local economy continues to improve, said Scott Ford, a consultant for the nonprofit organization that disseminates data about the community.

Fast Facts provides a snapshot of the local economy at certain points in time using several economic indicators. Ford said no one indicator is better than another, but when combined they are the pieces of the regional economic puzzle.

“What the data does, over a period of time, is try to put that in perspective,” Ford said. “What it’s staying at this stage in the game is that the majority of this is in our rearview mirror. We’re climbing out of this.”

The economic stress indicator, which measures the balance between jobs and workforce, was positive in September for the third consecutive month after nearly 40 negative months, Ford said. He cautioned, however, that a rate too high could lead to labor shortages, just as a rate too low leads to high unemployment.

Ford said other positive indicators include a slowed foreclosure rate, which was slightly less in September (1 in 319) than in August (1 in 325). And he said the amount of gross retail sales in June increased 24 percent to $83.6 million from June 2010.

Because the data comes from so many different sources, some of it is reported monthly, quarterly or even annually.

Ford added that some of the indicators weren’t as positive.

He said Fast Facts, which was released in late October, indicated no net change in private-sector jobs in the past year, but an 18 percent decline since the first quarter of 2008. He said in the past year, the number of private establishments, or private businesses, decreased more than 6 percent.

But Ford said the average weekly wage has increased slightly, 1.4 percent, since last year. He said there are fewer employees working more hours, which likely means fewer part-time jobs.

And Ford added that the indicator that is used as a predictor of residential construction points to an increase in activity still being years away.

“I’m optimistic, and things are OK,” Ford said, “but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hardships in this economy.”

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