University of Idaho Report on Forest Products Industry Conditions in 2010 and Outlook for 2011

Tuesday, January 18 2011


MOSCOW, Idaho – A new report from the University of Idaho's College of Natural Resources describes trends in industry sales, production, profitability and timber harvest.

The report, entitled “Idaho’s Forest Products Industry: Current Conditions and Forecast, 2011,” also features survey responses from Idaho business firms in the forest products industry. Business executives say the industry is in better condition now than a year ago, but performance still is hampered by the general economic conditions affecting the nation as a whole.

“For the past several years, researchers from the University of Idaho and the University of Montana have surveyed Idaho’s major forest products manufacturing firms,” said Jay O’Laughlin, one of the report’s authors and director of the University of Idaho’s Natural Resources Policy Analysis Group. “Essentially, this report keeps a finger on the pulse of one of Idaho’s most important industries.”

Because almost 90 percent of Idaho’s wood products are exported elsewhere, lumber and associated wood products always have been one of Idaho’s top-ranked basic industries, especially in northern Idaho where most of the sawmills are located.

“In 2010, various segments of the industry directly employed 10,300 workers in jobs providing wages well above the average for all industries in the state,” said O’Laughlin. “Impact models show that for every 100 workers directly involved in making forest products exported from the state, an additional 209 jobs are supported in other sectors of Idaho’s economy. To summarize, in 2010, more than 27,000 jobs were supported by Idaho’s forest products industry.”

Additional information in the report shows that as recently as 2005, Idaho sawmills produced 2 billion board feet of lumber. Due to the recent economic recession and slow recovery from it, lumber production in 2010 was reduced to 1.2 billion board feet, well below the 1.9 billion board feet produced, on an annual average, between 2001 and 2007. Many other products, including composite panels, wood pulp and energy, are made from the residual trimmings and chips produced in the process of converting logs to lumber.

The report’s outlook for 2011 calls for a modest rise in the U.S. economy, housing starts and consumption of wood and paper products, with larger improvements expected to follow in 2012. The main factors that will continue to affect the Idaho forest products industry’s overall economic condition into 2011 include not only general market conditions, but also problematic raw material availability and increased costs of health insurance, energy and transportation.

Collaborative authors from the University of Idaho include: Francis G. Wagner, professor of forest products, College of Natural Resources; Steven R. Shook, professor of marketing, College of Business and Economics; and Jay O’Laughlin, professor of forestry, College of Natural Resources. Authors from the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research are: Todd A. Morgan, director of forest industry research; Charles E. Keegan III, emeritus research professor; Steven W. Hayes, research forester; and Colin B. Sorenson, research economist.

“Idaho’s Forest Products Industry: Current Conditions and Forecast 2011” is free and may be ordered from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Educational Publications Warehouse at (208) 885-7982 or downloaded at www.cnrhome.uidaho.edu/pag.
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to be classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as high research activity. The student population of 12,000 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For more information, visit www.uidaho.edu.