Trends: Industry Will Recover from COVID-19

An economics professor at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis thinks the COVID-19-related shutdowns in Indiana’s RV industry will not have the same, extended economic impact as the plant closings during the 2008 recession.

But they will have an immediate effect.

This story by Wes Mills originally appeared in Inside INdiana Business.

“I think that RV sales can be hit hard by this, certainly in 2020,” said Kyle Anderson, an economist at the Kelley School. “And really how long that lasts, I think now is the big question that we're really trying to, get a sense of from the economic data.”

Three Elkhart County RV makers announced plans this week to temporarily suspend production at several plants in northern Indiana, including Elkhart-based THOR Industries, Grand Design RV in Middlebury and Newmar in Nappanee which are owned by Iowa-based Winnebago Industries.  The county accounts for approximately 65 percent of all RV production in the U.S.

The IU economist says there’s a glimmer of hope for the RV industry as opposed to the mass layoffs Elkhart County felt during the 2008 financial crisis. During that 18-month long recession, the unemployment rate peaked at 22 percent in March 2009 in the county.

The RV Industry Association said it is working with policymakers “to recognize how imperative it is that RV businesses are classified as essential.”

The lobby group says it is working with lawmakers to see if it can be included to receive some of the federal emergency funding going through Congress.

The industry organization says it is advocating for the use of RVs for emergency response purposes such as quarantine units, mobile medical clinics, and mobile intensive care units.

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