Byline: Norm Heikens
Sep. 5--Look to the recreational vehicle industry as a harbinger of a fast economic recovery, and you probably will be disappointed.
Shipments will be a flat 250,000 units in 2002, said industry forecaster John DeWolf.
But for the RV industry, flat is average -- and average isn't so bad amid economic doldrums.
"We're down about as far as we're going to get," said John DeWolf, an economic consultant to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. But "we're going to stay here about a year."
Recreational vehicle sales are important to Indiana for reasons beyond economic forecasting. Indiana manufacturers just over half the nation's RVs, mostly near Elkhart.
Economy watchers are searching high and low for good news as the nation enters a second year of its slowdown. While the country isn't technically in a recession, economists and business executives say it feels like one. Inflation-adjusted second-quarter growth of 0.2 percent was the slowest in eight years.
The RV industry continues to look back warmly to 1999, its best in 21 years. Shipments three years ago reached 321,000, valued at $10.4 billion.
This year is decidedly …