Of the nation’s 334 largest counties, 285 experienced declines in total employment between December 2007 and December 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Elkhart County, Indiana posted the largest percentage decline, with a 17.8 percent loss in total employment compared to the year before. Nicknamed the “RV Capital of the World,” the county’s economy is heavily dependent on the recreational vehicle manufacturing industry – one that has not fared well in light of the national economic downtown.
Simply Hired, an employment search engine website, reports a 49 percent overall national decrease in RV manufacturing jobs between November 2007 and May 2009. This loss is even greater than that suffered by the auto industry in general. Auto manufacturing jobs – which have received far more press – have declined overall by 24 percent over the same time period.
On the other side of the coin, Montgomery County, Texas experienced a 2.7 percentage gain in employment between December 2007 and December 2008.
Located just north of Harris County (Houston), roughly 50 percent of Montgomery County’s business activities are, in some way, related to the oil industry. Compared to the decline in the RV industry, the oil industry reported a 67 percent overall increase in employment between November 2007 and May 2009.
Following Elkhart County, the four counties with the next largest percentage declines in employment were located in Florida (Lee, Sarasota, Collier, and Marion Counties). Florida’s loss in non-agricultural employment in recent months has been steeper than the national rate of decline.
The state’s June 2009 job loss “continues the trend of annual declines that began in August 2007,” according to the Agency for Workforce Innovation, Florida’s lead state workforce agency. “The downturn started with declines in construction jobs, but has now spread to almost all other major industries,” the report continues.
While many in the labor force are pounding the pavement in search of employment, the ripple effect is clearly “at work” in today’s trying economy.