Once-idle factories are humming with the sounds of motor-home manufacturing in an Indiana town viewed as a bellwether for the U.S. economy. Could the industry’s, and the town’s, rebound be too much of a good thing?
‘I almost welcome a slowdown. I can’t find enough workers.’
Dan Holtz, Troyer Products
That’s the owner of a small manufacturing company that makes accessories for recreational vehicles reportedly telling the New York Times that an economic recession would almost be a relief, given how hard it’s been to find workers.
Dan Holtz owns Elkhart, Ind.–based Troyer Products. The Times was back in Elkhart, a frequent destination for its national reporters, because of the small city’s reputation as a national economic bellwether. As the Times headline put it, “As Elkhart, Ind., Goes, So Goes the Nation, and Elkhart is nervous.”
In addition to the relative worker scarcity, Elkhart, about 100 miles east of Chicago, is currently nervous about the impacts on manufacturers of the Trump administration’s several rounds of tariffs. As the city’s head of economic development reportedly put it, “Nobody’s in a panic; they are just concerned.”
There’s been a noticeable hit to demand for recreational vehicles recently: Shipments of motor homes were down more than 18% in June as compared with year-earlier figures, while shipments of smaller trailers and campers were down 10.5%.
But there’s less agreement on whether that represents an industry responding to a glut of inventory, a shock to the supply chain or falling demand. And with a rock-bottom unemployment rate of 2.3%, Holtz’s comment about a slowdown makes sense, even if it also feels like the kind of remark that could come back to haunt him. At the peak of the recession, after all, Elkhart’s jobless rate was 22%.
More Info: www.marketwatch.com