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Unemployment rates went up sharply late last year in two RV manufacturing centers, the Elkhart/Goshen, Ind., and Eugene/Springfield, Ore., metropolitan areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a unit of the U.S. Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate increased from 5.7% in October to 6.3% of the labor force in November in the Elkhart/Goshen area, the BLS reports.

During November 2000, the unemployment rate for the Elkhart/Goshen area was only 3%.

The number of manufacturing jobs in the Elkhart/Goshen area declined from 60,900 in October to 60,600 in November. However, there were 63,800 manufacturing jobs in the Elkhart/Goshen area during November 2000.

In the Eugene/Springfield area, the unemployment rate climbed from 6.2% in October to 6.9% in November, the BLS reports.

During November 2000, the unemployment rate in the Eugene/Springfield area was 4.5% of the labor force.

The number of manufacturing jobs in the Eugene/Springfield area also slipped from 21,700 in October to 21,400 in November. There were 23,400 manufacturing jobs in the Eugene/Springfield area during November 2000, according to the BLS.

Meanwhile, in another major RV manufacturing area, Riverside/San Bernardino, Calif., the unemployment rate actually declined from 5.3% in October to 5.1% in November.

The unemployment rate in the Riverside/San Bernardino area was 4.7% during November 2000.

However, the population of Riverside/San Bernardino is much larger than Elkhart/Goshen and Eugene/Springfield, possibly obscuring the impact of an employment downturn in the RV manufacturing sector. Specifically, the Riverside/San Bernardino labor force included 1.56 million people in November, compared with 98,100 in Elkhart/Goshen and 167,000 in Eugene/Springfield.

Manufacturing employment in Riverside/San Bernardino did decline from 127,000 in October to 126,700 in November. But during November 2000, manufacturing employment in the Riverside/San Bernardino area was lower at 126,200 jobs, according to the BLS.