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RVIA Debuts ‘Most Expansive’ Industry Study to Date

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RVs move America

As RV industry leaders gathered on Capitol Hill on Tuesday morning for the RV Industry Association’s annual legislative meetings, the Association released what officials say is the most expansive study of the RV industry to date during a scheduled media event at the Mayflower Hotel’s State Room in Washington, D.C.

The study, called “RVs Move America”, attempts to capture, for the first time, both the total economic scope of the industry in the U.S. economy, as well as data specific to states and congressional districts by leveraging a wide range of data spanning industry segments involved in the manufacture, sale, rental, repair, storage, and service of RVs, as well as the aftermarket industry and the financing and insurance of RV purchases and the economic impact of recreation vehicle travel.

The results show the RV industry contributed $49.7 billion to the U.S. economy last year, providing 289,852 full-time jobs. The industry’s workforce earned more than $15.8 billion in wages and benefits, and along with employers, paid $5.7 billion in federal, state and local business taxes, according to the report.

“It’s the most important tool when working with policymakers, whether it’s at the state level, congressional level, federal or the administration level, because it shows how much economic activity you provide to America,” RVIA President Frank Hugelmeyer said in an interview a day before the release. “It shows how many jobs you provide; it shows how diverse you are; it shows how much tax revenue you generate each year, and it shows a platform by which we can argue, ‘If you want to keep this economic activity and even strengthen it, you’ll need to take these policy steps.’”

The RVIA commissioned the yearlong study with John Dunham and Associates, and released the data during its annual meetings with congressional members this week.

RVIA Director of Government Affairs Michael Ochs said the industry contingency on Capitol Hill would begin using the data immediately during the Capitol Hill meetings.

“One of the statements that we hear when we go in (to the congressional meetings) is: ‘I don’t have any manufacturers in my district, so your industry doesn’t matter here,’ ” Ochs said. “But (with the study), we can … give them the actual impact of the industry between the manufacturing, the parts they buy, the dealers and the sales and servicing of RVs, the financing, insurance and camping that is attributable to the RV industry.

“That’s information that we have not had before, to break down in very specific terms for member of congress.”

U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews joined Hugelmeyer and several industry leaders on stage to announce the study Tuesday (June 7) morning, including RVIA Board Chairman Derald Bontrager, Thor Industries CEO Bob Martin, Forest River General Manager Doug Gaeddert and Winnebago CEO Michael Happe.

The marine and automobile industries, among several others, produce similar studies that canvass industries, and Hugelmeyer said the data is a big step for the RV industry.

“Many in the recreation space have (created such a study), and it was time for the RV industry to really be able to communicate this,” Hugelmeyer said. “I think the industry has seen the impact that it can have in policy discussions and government relations. It’s just part of being able to have a strong policy shop, and you’ll see us continue this into the future.”

By the Numbers

Editor’s note: For an interactive map, showing study data for specific state or congressional district, click here.

The study estimates there are 228 RV manufacturing facilities in the U.S. that in 2015 directly employed nearly 31,000 workers. According to Bontrager, that number will continue to grow in 2016 and 2017 with every RV manufacturer currently hiring and adding production space to keep pace with accelerating demand.

The study also reports:

  • RV use accounts for 45,150 jobs at campgrounds across the country.
  • Manufacturers of components used to assemble RVs, ranging from nuts and bolts to refrigerators and wood flooring, last year employed 13,108 workers.
  • The industry is responsible for creating 60,562 jobs with firms related to the RV industry. These “indirect” firms provide a range of goods and services, including equipment, raw materials, personnel, financial, advertising, consulting, government, or transportation services. These firms generated about $10.5 billion in economic activity.
  • RV dealers employed approximated 29,785 workers in the U.S.

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