Chaffee County – and its economy – is ever changing. That reality is being driven locally by a confluence of significant population, workforce, and employment trends.


To understand these trends, Chaffee County EDC – in partnership with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the Colorado Workforce Center, and EMSI – commissioned a far-reaching new Economic Overview Report. This report highlights population growth trends, labor force participation, demographics, inbound and outbound migration, industry growth, and educational pipeline.


  • In May of 2022, the unemployment rate in Chaffee County was 2.16 percent.

  • In the five years preceding 2021, the region’s population increased by 9.9 percent, growing by 1,897 to 21,307 total residents.

  • Population is expected to increase by an additional 8.2 percent between 2021 and 2026, adding another 1,725 additional residents.

  • From 2016 to 2021, jobs increased by 11 percent from 9,006 to 10,001.

  • As the number of jobs increased, the labor force participation rate increased from 54.5 percent to 61.0 percent between 2016 and 2021.

  • 8,714 local residents are above the age of 55, meaning Chaffee County faces high retirement risk to the local workforce in coming years, higher than the national average.

  • Chaffee County is a small business economy: 69 percent of companies in Chaffee County employ 9 employees or fewer. Less than 3 percent employ 50 or more.