Saturday, June 3, 2023



RV capital Elkhart booming, but for how long?

Turn back the clock to 2009, during the last recession, when RV sales nosedived. Elkhart, Indiana was the poster child for what was bad with the nation’s economy. The jobless rate in the region plunged from 20 percent that March, worst in the U.S., to just over two percent this January, half the national average. The local unemployment rate is actually closer to zero: some 9,500 jobs have no takers.

Starting around 2012, the RV industry—and, by extension, Elkhart—started to rebound sharply, largely because of the improved U.S. economy. RV shipments last year tripled to 500,000 motorhomes and towable from 2009, the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association reports.

JOBS ARE SO EASY TO GET that fewer in the region are enrolling in college, a risky bet against another downturn. Elkhart ranks 335th of 380 metro areas in percentage residents with a college degree, the Brookings Institution found.

But even in good times, memories of the last recession—and fears about the next one—shape business and personal decisions in Elkhart. Residents squirrel away money, not sure whether to trust the boom. That makes sense, according to Mr. Hicks, the Ball State economist. In the next recession, he said, “they will be clobbered.”

Even though the money for workers is excellent employees job-hop frequently in the workers’ market. According to local manufacturers turnover in the RV industry is roughly 100 percent. Bonuses of $500 to $1,000 are commonly offered to new hires if they stay 90 days. Read more.

Don’t miss the four minute video.

Sign up to receive an email every afternoon of
articles we’ve published in the past 24 hours. No ads
Enter your email address:

Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

All booms end sooner or later! It is a fact! For a community that is not diversified, they will be shooting themselves in the foot eventually. I have seen this happen before in Elkhart and the surrounding area. It will happen again! Booms do not last forever for one reason or another.

Bill Lampkin
5 years ago

Has anyone plotted a graph with RV production rate vs Recalls???

5 years ago

Hire anyone, even druggies. Well, often it shows in the finished product. $4.50 gas, CG fees up 65%, interest rates at 10%++ is beginning to sound good to some.

John Snell
5 years ago

The most successful district’s in the U.S. have diversified economies and an inclusive population. I’m not getting political, thats just an economic reality. States that provide more opportunities for trade school training are going to be successful. Robots are great but someone has to fix them.

Sidney Smith
5 years ago

College degrees are wonderful! Jobs are needed, plumber’s, carpenter’s, welder’s, mechanic’s do not necessarily need college, trade school’s can supply that education. A college education without a job is expensive.

Tommy Molnar
5 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Smith

Spot on Sidney! Learn a good trade and you find yourself in demand. I’ve always said all a college degree does for you is put you in a higher level of unemployment. You still have to find a job that calls for whatever you studied in college.

Even auto mechanics are in demand these days with all the over-the-top computer controls and amenities in new cars.

The comment about “squirreling money away” is funny. Isn’t that what we do to prepare for retirement? Pensions are getting to be a thing of the past, so we’re going back to what our parents did. Spend less than you make – and save for retirement.

5 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Pick the right career field in the military with an enlistment contract and learn while being paid for it. On top of that, you get college education benefits, and some life time benefits on top.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.