Economic indicators continue to improve in Routt County |

Economic indicators continue to improve in Routt County

Mara Fling waits on Corey Jacobs at the Quicksilver store in downtown Steamboat Springs on Wednesday afternoon. Yampa Valley Data Partners reports that retail sales were up 12 percent in May in Routt and Moffat counties compared with the same month last year.

— While mining for economic data, the Yampa Valley Data Partners group uncovered some good news related to Twentymile Coal Co.’s Sage Creek reserve mining operation.

Kate Nowak, executive director of Yampa Valley Data Partners, said Twentymile reported 6,164 tons of coal had been produced from the new mine in May, the first month of production. The mine also was employing 24 miners, according to a report from the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. The most recent report shows 5,404 tons of coal had been mined from Sage Creek in June.

The Sage Creek reserve is estimated to hold 110 million tons of coal, and Nowak said seeing production from the new mine is encouraging.

"They're a really important part of our economy," said Nowak, who added that the four mines in Routt and Moffat counties — Twentymile’s Foidel Creek and Sage Creek mines in Routt as well as Colowyo Coal Mine and Trapper Mine in Moffat — produced 45 percent of Colorado's coal in May.

She said Sage Creek was the "big scoop" in the August edition of FastFacts, a report produced by Yampa Valley Data Partners. The report also showed encouraging economic signs from the local retail, employment and real estate sectors.

"These are all good indicators that show a very nice, slow, steady improvement in the economy," Nowak said.

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The reports shows May retail sales increased 12 percent in Routt and Moffat counties compared with May 2011.

Employment numbers also were encouraging for the month of July, which saw a drop in the unemployment rate in both counties. Routt saw an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, and Moffat's rate was 7.9 percent. The report states Routt unemployment claims decreased by 47 in July compared with June, a decrease of more than 4 percent. More significant, Nowak said, was that the economic stress indicator moved closer to equilibrium, which shows an improved balance between the workforce and number of jobs available.

In the real estate segment, the report states that the number of housing units for sale in Routt County has remained stable at about 1,008 units during the past year.

"We observe that this is due to the number of homes selling and number of homes entering the market to be relatively even," according to the report.

With the inventory remaining stable, there were 24 single-family homes sold in July.

"This number is important because the ratio of single-family homes sold to the number of homes listed for sale in Routt County is a key future construction indicator," according to the report.

The report points out a slight decrease in the number of foreclosure notices as well as a slight increase in median listing price to $569,500.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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