Crises in the Country's Wealthiest County Jeopardizes Latinx Community

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

"A housing crisis and a lack of representation in the media has led the immigrant population in this town to be disproportionately affected–deemed the 'quiet force'"

Photo by Simon Lynes


Every driver on their way into town passes a perfect wooden sign calling out, "Howdy stranger! Yonder is Jackson Hole. The last of the old West.” The sign gives the impression of cowboys running through mountains–the old West’s last stronghold. While this is a sentiment everyone remembers when they come into town, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Photo by Wiki Commons


Teton County, where Jackson Hole is located, is the wealthiest county in the country: a land of millionaires and billionaires touting two, three or four homes. Nestled between mansions, however, this county also houses the nation's greatest income gap. The average annual income of the wealthy residents in Teton County, Wyoming is more than $28 million, while the average annual income of the service workers is around $30,000. For essential workers, this means they can’t afford to live in the county they work in. With the typical price of one bedroom in Jackson at $1,000 at a minimum, more than 59% of Jackson's employees are forced to live outside the county.


Why have so many one percenters flocked to this small town in Wyoming? To get the first look at Kanye West and the Kardashians? Do all rich people just love to ski? The answer is far simpler and avaricious: tax incentives. The state of Wyoming collects no personal or corporate income tax, purporting one of the nation’s lowest sales tax rates (5.36 percent compared to New York’s 8.49). Teton County is a haven for billionaires evading high fees on their many properties.

Those that have suffered the most from this crisis are those who work and power the town itself: service industry workers, hospitality workers, and those that work in the trades. A population of 10,429 people make up the town of Jackson with almost 25% of that population being Latinx. This is a large percentage for Wyoming, second only to the town of Rawlins.


A housing crisis and a lack of representation in the media has led the immigrant population in this town to be disproportionately affected–deemed the "quiet force.” The term, coined by Powder Magazine’s “The Quiet Force: How Immigrants are Changing America’s Ski Towns,” describes the dependent yet unacknowledged work from the Latinx communities in resort communities. These communities make up a large percentage of the service industry and are typically unseen by the white majority. Latinx people who are employed in restaurants, construction crews, grocery stores, cleaning and garden crews are the backbone of this tourist town trying to keep the capitalist fantasy alive.