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Changes in Eastern US Sawmill Employment and Estimated Hardwood Lumber Production from 2001 to 2015

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Forest Products Journal. 67(7/8): 408-415.


Sawmills are an important component of the hardwood industry, developing value-added products derived from the timber resources of the eastern United States. Employment in eastern sawmills has declined during the 21st century, reaching its lowest point in 2009 and 2010. Employment declines in the North and South Central regions of the United States were less than declines in the Northeast and Southeast regions, but East-wide employment was over 30 percent lower in 2010 than in 2001. The number of sawmills also has declined in the East, but since 2010, average employment in those mills has been increasing. Eastern hardwood lumber production followed sawmill employment for the four eastern subregions between 2001 and 2008; the last year estimates were available by state. Initial estimates of hardwood lumber production in 2009 based on production-to-employment ratios for the 2001 to 2008 period appeared higher than US Department of Agriculture estimates from timber product output data. A potential cause of this discrepancy was sawmills maintaining key employees during the Great Recession. After adjusting for these differences, eastern hardwood lumber production for 2009 was estimated to be 6.5 billion board feet (BBF), which was consistent with estimates of hardwood lumber consumption, net exports, and inventory adjustments. Eastern hardwood lumber production had increased to 9.2 BBF by 2015 but still was 28 percent less than the peak production year of 1999.


Luppold, William G.; Bumgardner, Matthew S. 2017. Changes in Eastern US Sawmill Employment and Estimated Hardwood Lumber Production from 2001 to 2015. Forest Products Journal. 67(7/8): 408-415.

Last updated on: June 8, 2018