Ski jobs a visible component of Nevada County labor market |

Ski jobs a visible component of Nevada County labor market

Employees of Tahoe Donner ski school employee takes learners up the hill.
Tahoe Donner |

Recent snowfalls marked the opening or expansion of ski slopes in or around eastern Nevada County — and those spinning chairlifts are indicative of a seasonal jobs increase for the hospitality and leisure sector of the labor market.

“Looking at that industry, it appears to be recession-proof, and not only sustained through the recession, it also grew,” said Diane Patterson, an analyst with California’s Employment Development Department.

According to the EDD’s most recent employment figures from October, the hospitality and leisure sector of the labor market had 4,050 jobs, which matched that same month from a year earlier.

However, that figure represented 540 more jobs in that sector than for the same month in the year 2000.

During a peak ski month, like January, there were 5,210 jobs in that sector for 2013 compared to 3,530 in the year 2000, representing an addition of nearly 2,000 jobs.

Overall, the year-long average of hospitality and leisure jobs in 2000 was 3,650 per month, which is 847 jobs fewer than 2013’s average thus far, not including unpublished or uncollected data from this November or December’s employment figures.

This growth in jobs occurred while Nevada County’s unemployment peaked at 12 percent in March 2010 and the state at 12.4 percent in October 2010.

“It looks like it’s been handling itself much better than other industries that were affected by the great recession,” said George Marley, an EDD labor market consultant.

As Nevada County has crawled out of the economic recession and built toward its most-recently released unemployment rate of 7.1 percent in October, the hospitality and leisure sector of the labor market is often the most pronounced.

Its seasonal hiring and shedding of jobs tend to stand out among other sectors during those times of the year.

At Sugar Bowl Resort in eastern Nevada County, hiring begins as early as mid-summer, followed by a job fair usually held in October, said spokesman John Monson.

Like most of the resorts The Union spoke to prior to this weekend’s snowstorm, Sugar Bowl plans to continue hiring until it reaches a peak of about 700 employees, Monson said.

Of Boreal and Soda Springs’ 325 people currently employed, spokeswoman Cookie West said 144 are Nevada County residents — and both places plan to continue hiring through Christmas.

“A whole bunch of us are (from Nevada County). Almost everybody on staff,” West said. “If our employees live in Nevada County or all the way down to Colfax, they buy locally. Are they going to go to Reno or Sac or Roseville? Yes. But most people who live here purchase and buy things here. I buy my groceries, too.”

Nearly 70 of Tahoe Donner ski area’s 126 current employees are from Nevada County — mostly Truckee.

“We are hiring 150 to 200 more as we wrap up the winter season,” said spokeswoman Gretchen Sproehnle.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

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