In Elkhart, Few Signs of Recession's End

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane was in Elkhart in 2008 when the staff learned they'd be soon out of work. Pat Andrews, the cook had grandkids to care for. Sarah Lehner the hostess was pregnant. Jennifer Rambow, a waitress, was worried about how she'd support her three-year-old at home.

By March of 2009, Elkhart's unemployment rate peaked at nearly 19 percent. Now that number has dropped to just under 15 percent.

But there are some signs that Elkhart might be through the worst of it. A good place to look is at an RV manufacturing plant.

At Keystone RV,they've added four new production lines to keep up with sales. Since April they've hired 800 new workers.

But whenever they post available jobs, they're flooded with applicants. Over 3,000 people showed up for just 200 jobs.

Seth Doane's Original Video From Elkhart
Seth Doane's Follow-up Video From Elkhart

The RV jobs are jumpstarting a few others.

Sarah Lehner had her baby, and found a job at Angelo's. After more than a year of searching, former cook Pat Andrews found part-time waitressing work. She makes just $120 a week.

"Every day it looks worse to me - instead of better," Andrews said.

"Really," Doane replied. "Even with the unemployment numbers in Elkhart a bit better?"

"I don't see it better, I really don't," she replied.

At United Way 2-1-1,a call center that connects folks to community resources, they've seen a 65 percent jump in crisis calls from Elkhart.

Former waitress Jennifer Rambow has been desperately searching for work for 16 months. "It feels helpless," she said. "I never realized how much working was a blessing."

There are still too few blessings to go around.
  • Seth Doane

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter