The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association commissioned an Economic Impact Study on the RV industry, released on June 7, 2016. The study found that the RV industry contributes about $49.7 billion in economic output or 0.28 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Through its production and distribution linkages, the industry impacts firms in 426 of the 440 sectors of the United States economy.
Nationwide, the industry is responsible for 216,170 jobs, both directly and inderectly, creating an economic impact of $37.5 billion. The full study results, along with each individual state and congressional district's economic impact is available on the website by clicking here .
Wed Dec 28, 2016
ELKHART, Indiana — To say the recreational vehicle industry has had an exceptional year is an understatement.
"We went into 2016 thinking this was going to be a great year and everything so far has surpassed our expectations," RVIA Spokesman Kevin Broom says. "There is real optimism and everyone is looking forward to 2017 and what it holds for the industry."
Knocked to its knees in 2009 during the Great Recession, unemployment peaked in Elkhart County at 19.6 percent that year and nationally at 10 percent. The RV industry, the bedrock of Elkhart County’s economy, was shedding jobs and struggling to stay afloat.
Since that point, the RV industry has shown resiliency. With a county unemployment rate of 3.3 percent and potential customers having more disposable income, the industry reached heights in 2016 that it hasn't seen in nearly 40 years.
"We all learned a lot coming out of the recession," Thor CEO Bob Martin says. "The recession was painful, but we took it day-by-day, year-by-year. No one could predict that the industry would come back this strong, but if there is anything the history of the industry has showed us, (it) is that when we get knocked down, we come back even stronger."
One of the biggest surprises of the year for the RV industry was the strong growth it experienced during an election year, something Martin says usually doesn't happen.
But RV shipments have increased in 2016, becoming the largest RV shipment year since 1977, according to the RVIA Shipment Report.
Year to date, total RV shipments have grown to 397,721 units, which was 14.9 percent greater than this same period last year. Shipments are running at an annualized rate of nearly 428,000 units, which would make 2016 the best RV shipment year in 39 years.
And 2017 is projected to be just as good, if not better.
"We have new business and buyers coming into the market and as long as we keep changing to meet their needs, the industry will sustain its success," Keystone RV President Jeff Runels says. "Our high water marks are based on the economy and it may slide at some point, but we are not seeing that right now. There are ebbs and flows, but none are forecast right now."