ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - Leaders of the recreational industry whose collapse during the recession hit northern Indiana hard say they're expecting solid growth in the next 18 months as the industry continues its rebound.
That's good news for Elkhart County, which saw its unemployment rate jump to 18.9 percent in March 2009 as it became poster child for the recession. Suddenly, the county that bills itself as the RV capital of the world saw factories shutting down and cutting back, putting thousands of people out of work. Things got so bad that President Barack Obama made two stops there in 2009 to tout his stimulus plan.
The jobless rate fell to 8.9 percent in June, a number reflected in the industry that employs more than 24,000 people in the county. RV manufacturers have added hundreds of jobs over the past few years, including the recent announcement that Forest River plans to hire more than 440 workers by 2015.
Wholesale shipments of all RVs were at 29,079 units in May, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. That's up 4.9 percent compared with May 2011. RV shipments for the first five months of 2012 are up 8.6 percent compared to the same period last year.