Reporting for The Wall Street Journal, Bob Davis finds that Elkhart, Indiana is a modern day boomtown. With an economy built on the RV industry, the surge in demand for motorhomes, coupled with faster economic growth is driving labor shortages and increased pay in the small city.
ELKHART, Ind.—The self-proclaimed RV capital of the world gives a glimpse of what the American economy looks like when operating at full tilt.
High-school students around here skip college for factory jobs that offer great pay and benefits. For-hire signs sprout like roadside weeds. And workers are so flush that car dealers can’t keep new pickups on the lot.
At the same time, the strains are showing. Employers can’t hang on to employees, and house prices are zooming. The worker shortage prompted a local Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant to offer $150 signing bonuses. A McDonald’sfailed to open for lunch last fall because managers couldn’t corral enough hands at $8 an hour to serve the lines waiting at the door.
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