Much of the growth in the Y2Y region over the last two decades has been linked to the cultural, social and natural qualities that make mountain communities pleasant places in which to live, and therefore attractive to business, says a new report from economists Dr. Ray Rasker and Ben Alexander1.
Trends over the past few decades show the vast majority of job growth in the Y2Y area is in sectors other than traditional resource extraction.
In a growing number of communities in the Y2Y region, tourism and recreation (particularly hunting and fishing) comprise an important and expanding portion of the local economy. Also, a significant portion includes the new breed of "foot-loose" entrepreneurs: engineers, designers, architects, managers and other independent professionals who, because of advanced communication technology like the internet, have been able to shift business locations from an urban to a more rural, and attractive environment.
The new challenge, says Rasker, is to make sure that the flood of people to these beautiful communities does not result in too much wilderness being plowed under for subdivisions, which could be more detrimental on the animals than strip mining or intensive forestry.
While Y2Y readily acknowledges the necessity and importance of traditional resource-based jobs such as logging, mining and oil and gas extraction in generating that "first dollar", it also understands that many such activities are being conducted at a scale and pace that is unsustainable and harmful to the wildlife in the region.
WYOMING, MONTANA AND IDAHO PORTION OF Y2Y REGION:
- 46% of growth in personal income in the region came from non-labour sources (money earned from past investments and retirement income) in the last 25 years.
- In 1995, $13.8 billion was earned in personal income from non-labour sources. This is more than 20 times the income earned in farming and ranching ($691M) and I more than 11 times that earned in mining, oil & gas, and lumber and wood products combined ($1.1 billion).
- Human population in the region has grown from 1.6- 1.9 million in 1980-95 - a 7% growth rate in the 80's and a 14% growth rate in the 90's.
ALBERTA PORTION OF Y2Y REGION:
- In the period 1986-91, over 65,000 new jobs were created in service-related occupations, over 33,000 new jobs in business, education, health and social services, and food, accommodation and beverage services.
- Over the same time period, logging and forestry, mining, oil and gas, and fishing and trapping added only 320 new jobs to the area. Less than 1% of the new jobs in the region were related to resource extraction or agriculture.
BRITISH COLUMBIA PORTION OF Y2Y REGION:
- In the period 1986-91, logging, oil and gas, mining and agriculture lost 470 jobs.
- The remaining job sectors added over 19,000 jobs to the economy of the region, with the fastest growth experienced in the service-related sector (10,350 new jobs) and trades and construction (3,500 new jobs)
1Rasker, R. and B. Alexander. 1997. The New Challenge: People, Commerce and the Environment in the Yellowstone to Yukon Region. The Wilderness Society, Washington, DC. 85pp. To order copies of the document contact the Y2Y office in Canmore, Alberta at (403) 609-2666.
Y2Y readily acknowledges the necessity and importance of traditional resource-based jobs such as logging, mining and oil and gas extraction in the region.