Lumber Industry Impacts U.S. Economy

Recently, a report by Forest Economic Advisors (FEA), commissioned by the Softwood Lumber Board (SLB), emphasized the importance the softwood lumber industry has on the U.S. economy. FEA estimates the 775,674 jobs, with a total payroll of more than $46 billion, are tied to the softwood lumber manufacturing industry. These numbers are based on both direct manufacturing and via downstream industries that use softwood lumber as a primary input.

Currently, 509 sawmills operate in 464 mostly rural communities across 32 states. The direct sales, employment and wages of the nation’s lumber mills have a direct impact on these rural communities. The mills form microeconomic hubs that generate substantial indirect employment and wages, in the form of goods, materials and services employees bought using their incomes, specifically through investment in housing. Because most mills are in rural areas with limited employment opportunities, these jobs are extremely important to both state and regional economies. In 2016, the softwood lumber’s total direct impact was 208,107 jobs and $11.35 billion in wages. The softwood lumber industry employs more people than oil and gas extraction (181,430) or primary steel manufacturing (140,200 jobs).

The Softwood Lumber Board’s role is to promote the benefits and uses of softwood lumber products. Over the last five years the SLB has contributed to increasing demand by 2.59 billion board feet.  The SLB’s impact has grown each year, creating 906 million board feet of increased demand in 2016 alone.  The SLB supports the market by supporting strong and safe building codes for wood, inspiring and educating architects and engineers on the benefits of wood construction, promoting the benefits of softwood lumber products in and around the home, and pursuing new markets for softwood lumber such as mass timber, mid-rise and tall wood construction.

FEA’s findings confirm the importance of the SLB’s efforts to safeguard and increase softwood lumber’s market share, as literally tens of thousands of families in hundreds of different communities rely on a healthy, strong softwood lumber industry.