As a child, Julie Greenwald sewed her own doll clothes and loved to tinker with old radios and other small appliances. “I would take something apart and try to make it work, or turn it into something else,” she said.
The Register Guard, Eugene, Ore., reported that in the past few years, that resourcefulness has been quite an asset for Greenwald, now 56, and her husband, Jeff. When Oregon’s recreational vehicle industry tanked five years ago, the couple gathered up the pieces of their business, Interior Creations, which had supplied fabric and finished fabric products to the RV factories, and used them, quite literally, to create something new.
The RV industry was once Lane County’s second-largest industry. But, in 2007, when the recession hit, many consumers stopped buying high-ticket luxury items. In 2009, Junction City-based RV manufacturers Country Coach and Coburg-based Monaco Coach declared bankruptcy. Monaco was bought later in 2009 by Navistar International, which moved most of the jobs to Indiana. All told, Lane County’s RV industry has lost 3,200 jobs since 2007.
The decline of the RV industry was a heavy blow to Junction City, the RV epicenter. But rather than giving up, many of the people who were suppliers to, or employees of, the once bustling RV factories have reinvented themselves.
To read the entire article in the Register Guard click here.
The following is an article from the Statesman Journal offering a look into what happened to former RV workers in Oregon when the industry crashed and left thousands unemployed. To read the entire article click here.
One of the casualties of the “Great Recession” in Oregon was the recreational vehicle (RV) manufacturing industry. After growing through the 1990s and into the 2000s, RV manufacturing in Oregon peaked at 7,699 jobs in March 2005. A little more than half (53%) of that employment was in Lane County, with the rest spread out across the state.
For the next three years following the peak, the industry was relatively stable, staying between 6,000 and 7,000 jobs. During the following severe national recession that lasted from late 2007 to late 2009, RV manufacturing was hit hard as credit dried up, investment returns declined, and jobs were lost. The result was a drop in demand for many products including RVs. RV manufacturing employment dropped to 1,610 by April 2009, a loss of 79% from its peak.
We know from the industry data that many relatively high-skilled and high-paying jobs were lost. But what happened to the workers in the RV manufacturing industry as a result of the recession? Were they able to regain employment in the industry? Were they able to transition to other industries? Did their earnings decline or grow?
To read the entire article click here.