nolans-rv-center-logoRobbie Wilson can tell you the exact month he first noticed a recession was underway.

The sales manager at Nolan’s RV Center Inc. on North Federal Boulevard in Denver told KUSA-TV, Denver, “In August of 2008. It was just like we forgot to open the gate on Federal. No one was coming in, nobody was buying anything.”

He can also tell you the exact month things started to turn around.

“It started in May,” he said.

Of course, the RV business tends to be seasonal in nature. But already this August his business is up 22% from last August.

“I think that’s definitely a good sign,” he said.

Call it the “RV economic indicator.” When sales of big-ticket, non-essential items start to pick up, economists say it will be a tremendously good sign.

University of Denver Daniels College of Business Professor Mac Clouse said the RV index is likely a pretty good economic indicator, but he’s looking at the housing markets to tell him when this economy might be on its way back up.

“It’s proven pretty reliable in the past,” he said. “When the housing market comes back, we know that consumers have money to spend, and that things are coming back on the construction side.”

A recent survey of 20 major metropolitan cities found a 1.4% uptick in housing prices from May to June of this year. It’s a start, says Clouse.

“It’s not going to be a rocket ship recovery where we blast off. It’s going to be a gradual recovery,” he said.