February rebounded with substantially more snow and skier visits at Sugarbush in comparison to last season at this time. Both snow totals and skier visits are tracking well ahead for the season overall, with 77 percent more snow and 30 percent more skier visits through February in comparison to the end of last season.

Lodging occupancy is tracking 2 percent ahead of last February and the year to date, likely buoyed by the robust snowfall and skier visits compared to the previous season. Website visits for Sugarbush, Mad River Glen and madrivervalley.com are up significantly compared to February 2016, although part of that increase is attributed to additional data received this year.

Average unemployment in The Valley for January 2017 was 2.5 percent, compared to 2.9 percent in January 2016. The Valley's unemployment rate of 2.5 percent in January is also substantially lower than the national rate of 4.8 percent.

The same number of building permits was pulled in February compared to the same month last year. Total dollar volume in real estate sales in The Valley had a strong showing at the end of 2016, with a $5 million increase over December 2015, but was still down approximately 26 percent for the year to date.

Valleywide tax receipts experienced a positive increase in both rooms and meals and alcohol receipts during November 2016, a traditionally slow time in The Valley. Rooms receipts increased significantly, by 42 percent, and meals and alcohol receipts increased slightly, by 7 percent, compared to November 2015. Conversely, both retail sales and total sales receipts were down by 3 percent compared to the same period in 2015.

The National Consumer Confidence Index increased by 3 points in February from the previous month. The Employment Trend Index increased by 1.5 points in February.

Data collected, compiled and analyzed by Kristine Keeney, Mad River Valley Planning District.