Poster child for recession shows signs of recovery

Published: Saturday, January 2, 2010 at 8:12 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 2, 2010 at 8:12 a.m.

ELKHART, Ind. — Hope is rising in a struggling northern Indiana county as people return to work — though not always to the jobs they left, and sometimes for less money.

Elkhart County's double-digit unemployment has become emblematic of the recession. It has drawn the attention of President Barack Obama, who has visited four times.

The unemployment rate has been driven by cutbacks at recreational vehicle factories that made Elkhart County the nation's RV manufacturing capital. Joblessness here spiked in March to 18.9 percent. But the rate has fallen, reaching 14.5 percent in November.

Part of the drop may be due to some RV makers hiring as dealers' orders have picked up. Two economists who follow the industry predict a slight production rebound this year.

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