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Ski resorts react to labor shortage, raise base pay for employees

Ski resorts react to labor shortage, raise base pay for employees

Featured Image: Matt Power

As ski resorts gear up for the upcoming season, the need to fill seasonal positions grows more pertinent every day. Year after year, however, companies are finding it harder to attract and retain employees–especially in Colorado, where the state’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average and the mountain community unemployment rate is even lower than the state’s. Mountain town employers are experiencing an incredibly competitive hiring market.

“We are trying to attract and retain good people,” said Aspen Skiing Co. spokesperson, Jeff Hanle in an article for the Aspen Times. “A lot of this is due to the marketplace…there aren’t a lot of employees out there.”

In an attempt to get ahead of this market, Aspen Skiing Co. announced Sunday that it will be raising the minimum hourly wage from $12 to $13.50 heading into the 2018-19 winter season. Other employee benefits include a free ski pass, health insurance and retail discounts. Aspen Skiing Co. aims to recruit 1,200 new employees with the raised base pay as well as bump returning employees up to that wage. The company already has 169 job listings on its site and it’s growing every day, including the unique position of “guest safety representative” at Cloud Nine, a restaurant on Highlands Mountain notorious for its après scene.

But Aspen Skiing Co. isn’t the only area to implement a higher base pay for employees. Back in March of this year, Vail Resorts announced it would be raising its wage from $11 per hour to $12.25 at its resorts in the United States and Canada–paid for by the $40 million the company saved last season due to the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Resorts are now hiring a generation with three times the debt and 20 percent less income compared to generations before them, according to the Federal Reserve, and face more financial pressure than ever before. That pressure changes the landscape for resorts and mountain town businesses. People are more willing to leave mountain towns for bigger cities to earn more money and that’s why Aspen Skiing Co. made the decision to increase hourly wages, to not only attract valuable employees, but retain them for seasons to come.

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