'RV Indicator' Says Economy Is Improving

Airstream Interstate 3500
Source: airstream.com
Airstream Interstate 3500

First to tank in a tough economy, and first to rebound, say economists.

What is it? RVs, which stands for recreational vehicles, those often-luxurious homes on four wheels. They are coming on strong these days.

“Our largest demographic is the Baby Boomer, age 50 and above, and so that demographic hasn’t stopped through the recession,” Richard Coons, president and CEO of the RVIA[Recreational Vehicle Industry Association], told CNBC Tuesday.

"What’s interesting is that the younger generation, those 35 years and under, is the fastest growing part of this industry.”

RV shipments for 2011 are expected to be up 8.2 percent from this year, and currently, about 8.3 million households now own an RV, according to the industry.

RVs include everything from the pop-up camper, which goes for about $5,000, to the “big boys,” used by rock and country and western stars on tour, and featured in the 2004 comedy film Meet the Fockers.

The biggest of the big boys is 42 feet long and goes for $750,000. It includes everything you have in your home—big-screen TVs, La-Z-boy recliners, all appliances, granite counters in the kitchen and many more features.

Tax-wise, if you buy an RV, the interest on your loan is deductible. And for better or worse, you don’t need a special driver’s license to hit the road in an RV.