InTrans / Aug 14, 2018

Profile 2005: Softwood Sawmills in the United States and Canada

The softwood lumber industry in the United States and Canada consists of about 1,067 sawmills. In 2005 these sawmills had a combined capacity of 189 million m3 (80 ÌÑ 109 bf). In 2004, they employed about 99,000 people and produced 172 million m3 (nominal) (73.0 ÌÑ 109 bf) of lumber. In the process, they consumed about 280 million m3 (9.9 ÌÑ 109 ft3) of timber. Employee productivity was near 2,125 m3 (900,000 bf) per worker per year for dimension and stud mills but about half that for board, timber, and specialty mills. Average saw log size varied from 42 cm (16.6 in.) in British Columbia to 16 cm (6.2 in.) in the boreal region of eastern Canada. Average lumber recovery factors varied from 267 bf/m3 (7.55 bf/ft3) for timber mills to 236 bf/m3 (6.6 bf/ft3) for specialty mills. The average for dimension mills was 266 bf/m3 (7.5 bf/ft3). Strong underlying demand for housing, supported by demographic growth among young adults and generational low interest rates, are strong positives for the industry‰Ûªs prospects. Low interest rates, however, are threatened by rising inflation, the measurement of which depends on whether new home prices are included or not.

Keywords: softwood sawmill capacity, employment, average log size, lumber recovery factor, market review