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Analysis Reveals Cyclical and Structural Changes in Forest Products Industry

The change in forest industry employment (NAICS 113, 321, 322, 337) from 2005 to 2010 compared to each state's total manufacturing employment in 2005. Each state's circle is scaled to its total timberland growing stock volume in 2010 (northern region). Forest ServiceSnapshot : Structural changes may be difficult to reverse but prospects for growth exist in forest product exports and wood-based biorefining

Principal Investigators(s) :
Woodall, Christopher W. 
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 40


In recent years, the forest products sector in the United States experienced a downturn in output to levels not seen in decades, and experienced job losses in the hundreds of thousands in the forestry and related sectors of the economy. The pattern of the downturn varies by industry, as affected by structural changes in the overall economy.

Globalization of manufacturing and expanded use of electronic media contributed to a decline in U.S. pulp, paper, and paperboard output since the late 1990s, while the collapse of housing construction since 2005 and offshore manufacturing of furniture production contributed to declines in U.S. wood product output. The more recent global economic recession of 2007 through 2009 accentuated the downturn.

Forest Service researchers analyzed the downturn, focusing on trends in forest sector economic activity and employment. Their analysis points to structural changes that may be difficult to reverse, but also finds some prospects for growth in the future, including increased forest product exports and wood-based biorefining.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • USDA FS Forest Products Laboratory
  • USFS R&D Washington DC Office
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Montana
  • University of Tennessee