Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Looking Back: Fleetwood Closes its Doors

Although we've discussed the decline of manufacturing in previous blog posts, the story bears repeating: The industry is having a tough time. In Oregon, employment in this sector declined for most of this decade; it lost 26,500 jobs (14%) over the last year.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Oregon's rural areas, where many towns depend on the employment of one or two large manufacturers. Last spring, the national drop in demand for recreational vehicles (RVs) finally forced Fleetwood to make some cuts -- including shutting down its manufacturing facilities in Pendleton and La Grande (as reported in
this article from the Eastern Oregonian).

Both Coburg and Junction City (outside Eugene) faced similar struggles earlier this year when local RV manfacturers Country, Monaco, and Marathon curtailed operations.

The good news for Eastern Oregon? Keystone RV Company purchased the former Fleetwood facilities in the fall of 2009. They plan to revamp and expand the facilities, then start hiring workers.

Transportation equipment manufacturing employment in Oregon is expected to fall from 15,200 in 2008 to 14,700 in 2010 - a three percent decline. Employment in this sector is expected to drop 23 percent, or 700 jobs, in Lane County alone over the ten-year period. That means other areas of the state will have to make up at least a portion of those lost jobs. Eastern Oregon, with its concentration of RV manufacturing, may see its employment in this sector hold steady or even grow slightly over the period.

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