Protected Lands Promote Jobs and Higher Incomes, Part Two
Muriel Eason | 1/4/13

Read Part One

In the fierce global competition for business and talent today, the West has a clear competitive advantage in its public lands. The West has more federal public lands, and protected public lands such as national parks and monuments, than any other region of the country. These lands offer access to hiking, fishing, hunting, skiing, boating, and other forms of recreation, and provide a scenic backdrop to the region’s communities. Entrepreneurs and talented workers are choosing to work where they can enjoy outdoor recreation and natural landscapes.  High-wage services industries are using the West’s national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and other public lands as a tool to recruit and retain innovative, high-performing talent and increasingly, chambers of commerce and economic development associations in every western state are using the region’s national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and other public lands as a tool to lure companies to relocate.

The ability to attract new people is essential to the vibrancy and long-term health of the West’s economy. It is even more important today as companies and individuals are freer to choose where they will locate, and competition is fierce for talented workers who are fueling some the region’s fastest growing industries.

“Over the past century, the United States has shifted from an economy centered on producing physical goods to one centered on innovation and technology... In the twentieth century, competition was about accumulating physical capital. Today it
is about attracting the best human capital.”

— Enrico Moretti, The New Geography of Jobs

While the economies of non-metro areas in the West are smaller in scale and often face challenges related to sector diversity and access to larger markets, here too services sectors lead growth.  From 1970 to 2010, services sectors created more than two million net new jobs, or nearly 100 percent of net new job growth in the non-metro West. Non-services have been roughly flat over this same period.

During the last decade, the leading job creators in the non-metro West were all services sectors, many of them higher-paying. In fact, they are the same industries posting top job gains in the West as a whole.  Health care added 78,700 new jobs, real estate 64,948 new jobs, and finance and insurance 46,068 new jobs from 2001 to 2010.

In 2010, services sectors as a whole accounted for 64 percent and non-services for 19 percent of total employment in the non-metro West. Government jobs also are important in the region and made up 18 percent of total employment in the same year.

While services have come to define the economy of most western communities, an equally significant factor in local western economies is non-labor income which consists of dividends, interest, rent (money earned from investments) and government transfer payments to individuals (Social Security, Medicare, etc.).  Both investment income and transfer payments have a significant age-related aspect, and much of their growth and significance is tied to the aging of the U.S. population, accumulated wealth, and entitlements.  Since Archuleta County is home to many retirees, transfer payments are a significant economic driver, according to Region 9 Economic Development District.

Come join in the discussion at the monthly Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (PSCDC) meetings. 

Our next public meeting is Monday, January 7th at 5:00 PM at the Quality Resort, followed by a public reception.  Agenda topics include a recap of 2012 successes, a recognition and farewell to Rich Lindblad, plans for 2013, project updates on Imagine Downtown, old City Market acquisition and Crowdfunding. 

Hope to see you there!


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