RECESSIONOMICS

Downturn Hits the Amish

In one of the largest settlements of Amish people, about half the population works in the RV industry instead of on traditional farms. The economic downturn means that many workers like Freeman Wingard, who made $40 per hour working in the RV factory and took his family for vacations in Florida, were laid off from their jobs and had to return to the farm and a more traditional Amish lifestyle. Now instead of going to restaurants and taking vacations, Wingard wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to make 300 jars of jelly by noon, and all the hard work doesn't come close to replacing his former factory income. The decreased income in many of the Indiana Amish have them returning to "core values" of church and family. (In other Amish populations, almost everyone works on the farm or for Amish-owned businesses). Many say they like the change: "The factories can make a robot out of you," said one former RV worker.