Nowhere is the shift in pandemic-era travel and the industry’s nascent recovery more visible than in Elkhart County, Indiana, a collection of gritty factory towns that is a two-hour drive east of Chicago. Among its plants are manufacturers of recreational vehicles, RVs.
Elkhart workers, to RV dealers across the country, are having one busy summer, as Americans seek road trips as an alternative to flying and long vacations, forcing manufacturing plants to ramp up production.
Some factories are keeping the assembly lines moving for as many as six days a week during extended shifts in order to meet the demand, according to Monika Geraci, senior manager, marketing strategy and operations at the RV Industry Association.
This heightened demand is showing up in Elkhart County’s unemployment rate, which recently marked one of the biggest drops in the country. In May, Elkhart County’s jobless rate fell significantly to 11.9 percent, from nearly 30 percent a month earlier. Patrick Industries, a parts-maker for RVs, and Thor Industries, an RV manufacturer, are each based in the county.
The trend was not lost on Wall Street. Both Patrick and Thor saw their stocks shoot up by more than 200 percent in June from their low marks in March.
Indeed, airplane-wary travelers, combined with pent-up demand from months-long quarantines, are making RVs a rare bright spot for U.S. travel through road trips.
Check out the full article from Skift here.