The Economic Landscape: Racial Disparity and the Resurgence of Ski Bums

February 22 2010, 1:53 PM

One detail recently teased out of the unemployment figures is that minorities are experiencing higher rates of joblessness than whites in Colorado and across the nation. In the state, 14.7 percent of African-Americans and 10.5 percent of Latinos were unemployed in 2009, compared with 6.9 percent of whites, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzed by The Denver Post. The schism has long existed, say advocates, including some who think the government should intervene. "The times require that the federal government step in and provide temporary employment opportunities---not Social Security payments, not one-time checks, but jobs where people get up in the morning and go to work," says Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus' jobs task force. For many people, regardless of their heritage, jobs aren't what they used to be. Recent college grads, out-of-work young professionals, and others are jumping at the chance to work menial jobs at ski resorts, signaling the return of the American ski bum, writes The New York Times. The trend seems to be crowding out foreign workers, who once snapped up jobs such as busing tables and operating ski lifts. About 15 percent of the Aspen Skiing Company's seasonal staff is foreign, compared with 26 percent in recent years. Gwyn Gordon Knowlton, an owner of Gwyn's High Alpine restaurant on Snowmass, says about 45 percent of her employees last year were foreign, compared with eight percent this year. She adds that Americans are researching their next opportunity but also want to have fun and ski "rather than just living in the city being miserable, not having a job and not knowing what to do.'" Meanwhile, a couple University of Colorado students have started a new Web site---stusjobs.com---meant to help people find part time or hourly work by location (via 9News).