ASPEN, Colo.—Wages fell about 3 percent between 2008 and 2010, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but have now bounced back to nearly pre-recession levels.
But have the ordinary wage earners nonetheless lost ground in what is nationally believed to be a widening breach between the rich and the not-so-rich?
The Aspen Daily News asked the provocative question, but the evidence doesn’t provide a solid answer.
Citing state records, the newspaper reports that housekeepers and food-service workers make an average $632 per week before taxes, followed by construction jobs at $1,230 per week, and upper management salaries commanding $2,643 per week.
Those are good wages in lots of places. And maybe even for some of those who live in the 2,931 deed-restricted affordable housing units of Aspen and Pitkin County, of which 54 percent are owned and 46 percent are rented.
But what is the local rate of inflation for food and other goods and services? There seems to be no reliable measure of that. Colorado’s consumer price index is determined in metropolitan Denver. Rural areas in the West are lumped together, and there’s no way that Aspen compares with a place like Riverton, Wyo., or Twin Falls, Idaho.
Real estate prices in Aspen are always nose-bleed high. The newspaper cites the research of Zumper.com, which earlier this year found that Jackson, Wyo., is the highest among ski towns, at $2,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, while Aspen was second at $1,750. The Vail area came in at $1,450.