Colorado ski resorts are in an uphill battle for workers amid the historic labor shortage |

Colorado ski resorts are in an uphill battle for workers amid the historic labor shortage

Ski areas are reaching out to locals, relying on visa programs and retooling jobs as they search for hundreds of workers in communities enduring critical housing and labor shortages

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun

DENVER — As the first snow of the season covers the high country, Colorado’s ski resorts are starting their search for thousands of workers in what many say is an unprecedented labor crisis.

Housing continues to be the albatross for ski resort employers. It was a challenge before the pandemic.

Resort-area real estate prices continue to set records, driven by urbanites who fled cities for mountain communities during the height of the pandemic. More homeowners are renting their mountain-town properties to growing numbers of travelers, pinching the availability of homes for working locals.

For several months, employers in resort areas have struggled to hire and retain workers. Restaurants are limiting hours. Construction projects are getting delayed for months, if not years. The “help wanted” ads in local papers exponentially outnumber the rare “for rent” ads.

Ski resorts are hoping for a revival of the J-1 visa program that ferries students from the southern hemisphere to Colorado to fill seasonal jobs. Last year, the number of J1 visa workers coming to Colorado during their summer break fell by 97%.

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