Editor’s Note: The following is an editorial published in the Goshen News, located in Indiana’s Elkhart County, assessing the signs of a rebounding economy in the area.
First in, first out. That used to be the saying about the local recreational vehicle industry’s fortunes during a recession or economic downturn. On a broader sense, that statement can be applied to all of Elkhart County’s industry, as the county remains one of the strongest manufacturing areas in the country.
Last week, Wall Street investors looked for other investment options when they learned the national unemployment rate for June was stuck at 8.2%. That number reflected that 80,000 jobs were created nationwide in June, a number not large enough to budge the national jobless percentage.
Yet here in Elkhart County, where the unemployment rate was 8.6% in May, we have added thousands of jobs since the first of the year. As we reported June 24, the county has gained 9,900 jobs since January. Most of these jobs appear to be newly-created — that is, jobs that are needed to meet increased production in the recreational vehicle industry, the custom vehicle industry and the host of job shops and speciality manufacturers scattered across the county.
Evidence for this is that Wieland Designs, a Goshen company that makes seat covers for the aircraft, automotive and furniture industries, needs more workers to fill the growing demand for its products. Also, Monaco RV in Wakarusa is seeking hundreds of workers to fill jobs that were moved to Elkhart County when the company closed its Coburg, Ore. facility. And now Utilimaster in Wakarusa, which manufacturers specialty bodies for delivery vans, will hold a job fair in an attempt to lure about 100 workers to the company to fill openings. And there are several more companies in the county also seeking workers.
These are all good signs that the local economy is beginning to heal to a pre-recession level. We know that the latest unemployment rate for the county was 8.6% in May, but that sure beats the 18% number the county had during the recession.
So there is good economic news here in Elkhart County. And we hope that the adage that we are “first out” of an economic downturn is becoming true. Because if it is, there are better days ahead for all of America.