Wages in “RV capital” drop dramatically, worst in USA


Elkhart County, Indiana, suffered the largest decrease in weekly average wages in the nation from March 2018 to March 2019, according to a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Wednesday, August 21, and reported by the Elkhart Truth. More than 80 percent of all RVs made in America are made in Elkhart.

In that period, average weekly wages in Elkhart County decreased by 7.6 percent, from just above $1,000 to $930 per week. The country as a whole saw an increase of 2.8 percent.

Manufacturing employees in Elkhart County took the brunt of the decline, with a decrease in wages of 12.7 percent — about $137 per week.

After the Great Recession a decade ago, which led to a 20 percent unemployment rate in Elkhart in 2009, local politicians spoke often about diversifying the economy, but the RV industry continues to dominate.

This year’s RV shipments are down about 20 percent from last year, with 2018 being down more than 4 percent from the year before, which set a record high.

Read the full story in the Elkhart Truth.


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Billy Bob Thorton

After year over year record builds, sales, the industry is adjusting. Nothing to see here, move along. Business cycle.


Absolutely – market is getting saturated

Edith Watson

Build, build, build was the cry from the RV manufacturers in response to the economy improving. after 2008. The theme was reinforced by workers thriving with overtime money. Now the ovetime has ceased, hours have been reduced; but the wage scale has not decreased. It has always been common in Indiana businesses to close in July for 2 or 3 week furloughs. That dates back to the years I worked at IH in Fort Wayne. It was expected, and workers managed their budgets knowing this was the practice. So, for me, living in northern Indiana, I feel the article was… Read more »


Dealer inventory is increasing, RV shipments decreasing, thousands of unsold/shipped RVs sitting in vacant lots around the Elkhart area (we saw this on our trip in June) talked with many industry workers who working a 32 hour work-week and facing a 2-3 week furlough in July are all indicators of economic trouble in the northern Indiana area and the RV industry. How the industry works through the downturn and mediocre quality problems will be interesting to watch.

Gene Cheatham

My thoughts: 1) continuing mediocre quality, 2) price increases ( combination of increase in raw materials, manufacturers increasing prices to keep profit up during declining sales?), 3) harsh deaf ear to their customers 4) not enough campsites available 5) very few new campgrounds in the works. Phew…pardon the rambling. We just bought a hardly used 2018 with wheel for well below new,let the first owner deal with warranty hassle and stuff messed up from the factory and lack of pdi. Like any industry, if sales slide and new stuff is piling up in the yard, someone has to get laid… Read more »


You bought a 2018 with a wheel?

Rory R

I would like to get a bit more detail on this wage decrease in Elkhart. Did the average weekly wage decrease 7.6 % due to a decrease in the number of hours worked, or was the decrease due to a reduction in the number of workers (due to layoffs or furloughs)? Also did the production schedules also decrease parallel to the wage decrease? Those details would of course give a bit more insight into the inner-workings of the industry…..

RV Staff

Hey, Rory. The article from The Elkhart Truth, linked at the bottom of the post, explains some of the causes for the wage decrease, including fewer hours worked. Other than what’s included in the full article, we can’t speculate on the causes. But if you Google “wage decrease in Elkhart,” there are several articles that may offer more details regarding the information you’re looking for. —Diane at RVtravel.com


With respect to this article: If anyone takes a trip up to the midwest, namely Indiana and the Elkhart area. Most people would be shocked to see that there are literally 10’s of thousands of RV’s just sitting around. Mostly travel trailers, fifth wheels and Class B and C motorhomes. The Elkhart area is very large and diverse. There are fields full of these either completed RV’s waiting for shipment or uncompleted RV’s sitting in the fields with grass growing up all around. The economy and the RV industry dictate this decline in wages. And considering the worker shortage in… Read more »

Frank Heard

Jeff, I saw the same think as you on the two trips I have taken to Elkhart.. Throw em together and move em out the door seems to be their moto.