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County hosting Obama has 15.3 percent unemployment

By AP, on 02-09-2009 09:55

Published in : Agenda, Economy

Views : 624    

Almost no place in the country has been hit as hard by the recession as the northern Indiana towns that make up the heart of the nation's RV industry.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit Elkhart on Monday trying to sell his economic plan in an area where the unemployment rate hit 15.3 percent in December — a stark contrast to 4.7 percent a year earlier.

Hundreds of workers have lost their jobs at RV makers such as Monaco Coach Corp., Keystone RV Co. and Pilgrim International. Obama will be making a return visit to Concord High School, having campaigned there in August in his successful push to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Indiana since 1964.

The industrial city of about 50,000 just east of South Bend also has long been home to musical instrument makers.

"We've done some diversification over the years, but not enough to offset what has happened in the RV industry," Elkhart County Commissioner Terry Rodino said last week.

Keystone RV Co. in Goshen informed 350 workers on Feb. 2 that they will be laid off in April. Jayco Inc. in Middlebury told more than 250 workers that they will be out of work in two weeks.

Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder estimated that the county's unemployment rate is now likely closer to 20 percent.

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