Aspen Ski Company To Raise Minimum Wage to $15/hr

Dylan Craig | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Snowmass, Aspen Wage
Photo Credit: Aspen Skiing Company

The Aspen Times is reporting that the Aspen Skiing Company has opted to increase its minimum wage from $13.50 to $15. The Aspen Skiing Company (or ‘SkiCo’) operates the famed resort complex around the town of Aspen, Colorado, which includes the ski areas of Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, and Buttermilk. The minimum wage increase is for entry-level positions, including lifties, food service employees, and other essential roles that keep a ski area operating smoothly.

Aspen is known globally as a ski destination with stunning views, diverse terrain, and high-end amenities, but the town has also developed an infamous reputation due to its status as one of the most expensive municipalities in the United States. Aspen is home to many celebrities and other wealthy residents, who spend big to acquire vacation properties. The sky-high real estate prices (both residential and commercial) combined with the town’s physical isolation leads to a high cost of living. For Aspen SkiCo employees in entry-level positions, the town’s living expenses can be difficult to overcome.

Maroon Bells, Aspen Wage
The famed Maroon Bells near Aspen, CO. Photo Credit: Mike Scheid

Last year, Aspen SkiCo increased its minimum wage from $12 to $13.50, and Caleb Sample, Aspen SkiCo’s director of talent, said the latest minimum wage increases are partially due to the current competitive labor environment.

“In the industry, that’s going to make us much more appealing (than competitors). That’s the hope anyway”, Sample told the Aspen Times.

According to the Washington Post, unemployment in the US is at historic lows, meaning that companies are facing smaller hiring pools and have to compete for the attention of potential employees. Sample hopes that “the pay hike will capture the attention of workers looking at options for winter and boost Skico’s already strong retention rate even higher”. Last year, SkiCo competitor Vail Resorts also increased its minimum wage from $11 to $12.50, citing federal tax cuts and the competitive job market.

Employees at Aspen SkiCo get free season passes, along with a long list of benefits and discounts, but given that a two-bedroom trailer in Aspen can sell for as much as $559,000, the minimum wage increase likely isn’t enough to deal with Aspen’s astronomical living expenses. SkiCo rents out 600 beds in affordable-housing units to its employees and is currently planning on building another large affordable housing unit, but employees unfortunately still face a shortage of affordable housing despite the latest minimum wage increase.

Slopeside House,Aspen Wage
A slopeside house in Aspen. Homes can reach upwards of $30M. Photo Credit: Adam Lague

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