For decades, the manufacturing and economic mainstay in Oregon’s Lane County was the timber industry, according to the Register Guard.
But for a while now, recreational vehicle factories have been gaining – there’s more hiring to come – and they are poised to become the county’s largest manufacturing employer.
Through August of this year, RV manufacturing employed an annual average of 4,100 employees in Lane County, compared to 4,740 in the manufacture of wood products, economists said.
The county is home to three motorhome and bus manufacturers: Coburg-based Marathon Coach and Monaco Coach Corp., and Country Coach Inc. in Junction City. Each firm has hired people at a steady clip to keep up with demand.
Fueled by the growth in Lane County, Oregon has emerged as a growing center of RV manufacturing. Of the 320,800 RVs shipped to dealers last year, 58 percent were manufactured in Indiana; 11 percent in California and 7.5 percent in Oregon, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association in Reston, Va.
RV factory jobs in the county on average pay 22 percent less than wood-products jobs, according to state data.
The average annual Lane County wage last year in wood products was $39,395, compared with $30,857 for the transportation equipment sector, which is predominantly RV manufacturing, said Brian Rooney, labor economist with the Oregon Employment Department. Overall, the average county annual wage was $30,312 last year.
Rooney said RV factories may have more lower-skill assembly jobs compared with wood products manufacturing, which can involve technical and mechanical responsibilities.