Steamboat Springs The number of jobs and the size of the workforce in Routt County are becoming balanced, a possible indication that the local economy is improving.
According to the Yampa Valley Data Partners’ Fast Facts report for August, the economic stress indicator because of unemployment for Routt County increased to 0.006 in July, up from -0.004 in June. July represented the first month since December 2007 that the economic stress indicators for Routt and Moffat counties were positive numbers.
“We had more jobs than people for as long as we’ve been tracking this until the last month,” said Kate Nowak, executive director of Yampa Valley Data Partners, which disseminates local demographic information from data sets such as the U.S. census. “In July, we saw a slight increase. It seems to be balancing out some, and that’s a good thing.”
Nowak added that the economic stress indicator ideally would be close to zero, which would indicate there are enough people to fill the available jobs.
Scott Ford, a consultant for Yampa Valley Data Partners who helped compile the data, said Fast Facts answers the question, “How is the economy doing?” in Routt and Moffat counties based on 50 indicators. He said economic stress is a strong indicator to answer that question.
“Looking at 20 years of data, this does a really good job forecasting when we’re going into a decline and when we’re coming out of a decline,” he said. Ford added that the economic stress indicator decreased before the recession began.
Other indicators in Fast Facts, which was released last week, examine employment, income levels, construction and real estate activity, retail sales and energy production.
In addition to economic stress indicating recovery, Nowak said the county’s foreclosure ratio of 1 in 621 housing units receiving a foreclosure notice in July has improved. The ratio was 1 in 437 in May and June. The county’s July figure also was better than the national average for that month, which was 1 in 611.
The foreclosure ratio in Routt County was 1 in 346 in January.
Ford said that he thought it was a little too early to say whether the local real estate market hit bottom but that he thinks it’s starting to level out.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com