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Major labor shortage predicted for mountain resort communities

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. -- A new study says out-of-reach housing prices could leave some resort communities with only a third of the necessary workers in the next 20 years.

Ski resorts already realize the problem and are scrambling to avert a crisis by building more employee housing.But the report by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments estimates 65,683 jobs will go unfilled by 2020 in Summit, Grand, Eagle, Jackson and Pitkin counties.

"If anything, we think those numbers are really pretty conservative," Council Director Linda Venturoni said.

What is unclear is whether a recent decline in skier and boarder numbers could complicate matters by cutting the amount of money available for housing.

Area leaders blame the labor shortage on low-paying jobs in the service industry, a relatively small Generation X labor pool and the high cost of housing.

"It's particularly painful in resort communities," said Lynn Skall, executive director of the Summit County Chamber of Commerce. "Already, employers are walking on eggshells to keep the employees that they have."