GDP story

Elkhart County's gross domestic product output and its exports to other countries continued their growth in 2011, climbing out of troughs in 2009, according to recently released federal data.

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on March 5, 2013 at 10:54 a.m.

GOSHEN — Recent figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce show that Elkhart County continued its significant growth in 2011, with total output and exports both surging ahead of their 2009 recession troughs.

This area is also expected to lead continued growth once 2012’s numbers are released, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ most recent U.S. Metro Economies report. This area was one of five listed in the report expected to lead the way.

Exports for the Elkhart-Goshen metro statistical area were just shy of $1.04 billion in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. In 2011, the latest year available, that had risen to more than $1.55 billion, putting the area between Rockford, Ill., and Bellingham, Wash., in about the top third of all U.S. metro areas for 2011. Elkhart County was well ahead of the Fort Wayne area ($1.28 billion), but below the South Bend-Mishawaka area ($2.1 billion).

According to the commerce department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, Elkhart County’s gross domestic product in 2009 bottomed out at $7.32 billion. In 2011, the numbers came back to just more than $9.11 billion.

Elkhart County has one of the most manufacturing-heavy economies in the U.S. The manufacturing sector’s gross output was $2.74 billion in 2009 and up to $4.26 billion in 2011.

Elkhart County’s per-capita personal income also continued to rise in 2011, reaching $32,131, well up from 2009’s $29,119, according to the bureau of economic analysis.

According to the U.S. Metro Economies report from last year, “The resurgent manufacturing sector will be the engine powering growth in Columbus and Elkhart-Goshen. Since the end of the recession — during which inventories were short and payrolls fell drastically — firms have called back workers and expanded operations as the recovering economy has demanded a greater supply of manufactured goods. The metropolitan areas of the Rust Belt will reap the benefits of this recovering manufacturing sector. In particular, Elkhart-Goshen will expand its recreational vehicle manufacturing.”

That happened with about 13 percent growth last year in the RV industry, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.

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