Editor’s Note: The following is an editorial appearing in the Goshen News assessing the economic outlook in Indiana’s Elkhart County. For the full story click here.
As 2014 draws to a close and we consider what the year has brought to Goshen, Ind.-area residents, the word “prosperity” comes to mind.
As many benchmark statistics show, the local economy is doing very well. October’s unemployment statistics showed that just 4.8 percent of the Elkhart County labor force was without a job. One of the encouraging numbers in that report was the growth of the labor force, which was 99,570. That number is still below the county’s historic high of 108,129 in July 2006. The labor force is the number of people employed plus the number of people seeking jobs.
One of the biggest reasons for the county’s low unemployment is the resurgence of the recreational vehicle industry. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), shipments of RVs will be about 348,000 units in 2014, up from 321,127 units moved from manufacturers to dealers in 2013. And, the good times won’t be ending anytime soon for the industry, as the projection for 2015 is for 362,00 RVs to be built and shipped.
It’s estimated by RV industry officials that more than 80% of North American RVs are built in Elkhart County. But even as the county quickly moves ahead economically, we see that the wealth gap between people here and the rest of the nation, remains too wide.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Elkhart County’s per capita personal income was $36,229 in 2013. That amount ranked 46th in the state and was an abysmal 81% of the national average of $44,765. It’s likely that the 2014 statistics will show our per capital income rose because more people were earning wages, but we don’t expect the gap to the national average will be narrowed very much.
While there is a lot to cheer about in Elkhart County this year, as we move on to 2015, county leaders have to look beyond the wonderful resurgence of the RV industry and seek out new opportunities if we want to make a dent in the income gap.
For the full story click here.