Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Industrial Summary

Forestry and Logging

NAICS 1131; 1132; 1133; 1153

This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in logging; timber tract operations; forest nurseries; and related support activities such as transportation, reforestation, pest control and firefighting services. Logging and support activities are the two largest segments, accounting for most of production and employment. While direct exports represent a small portion of total revenues, the forestry industry strongly relies on sales from the wood products and paper manufacturing industries which export a large share of their production, mainly to the United States. The industry employed 48,100 workers in 2016, largely concentrated in British Columbia (40%), Quebec (20%) and Ontario (14%), with a workforce primarily composed of men (82%). Key occupations (4-digit NOC) include:

  • Logging machinery operators (8241)
  • Chain saw and skidder operators (8421)
  • Supervisors, logging and forestry (8211)
  • Forestry technologists and technicians (2223)
  • Logging and forestry labourers (8616)
  • Silviculture and forestry workers (8422)
  • Transport truck drivers (7511)
  • Conservation and fishery officers (2224)
  • Managers in natural resources production and fishing (0811)
  • Heavy-duty equipment mechanics (7312)
  • Forestry professionals (2122)

The industry experienced a downturn over the period 2007-2016, primarily due to the fallout of the U.S. housing market between 2006 and 2009. In addition to massive declines in U.S. housing starts, the use of newsprint grade paper and other forms of paper continued to decrease as publishers and readers transitioned to digital outlets, lowering the demand for forestry products. Production partially recovered from 2010 to 2016, in line with improved U.S. housing activity. The rebound in the industry’s output was also supported by solid investment in residential construction in Canada and higher timber production in British Columbia to salvage the remaining commercial values of trees that were affected by the mountain pine beetle. However, the industry could not completely overcome the drop in U.S. demand that occurred between 2006 and 2009, resulting in average annual declines of 0.8% in real GDP and 2.6% in employment over the full period 2007-2016. The majority of the job losses occurred during the collapse of the U.S. housing market, when the industry was forced to close plants and undertake significant consolidation in response to lower exports of wood products. The need to improve cost-competitiveness and boost productivity by adopting new technologies also constrained job creation in the industry from 2010 to 2016, as employment remained stagnant during that period despite the rebound in production.

Over the period 2017-2026, production growth in forestry and logging is projected to return to positive territory, averaging 0.8% annually. Output growth is expected to be primarily driven by the ongoing recovery in residential investment in the United States and the resulting increase in demand for wood products. However, this demand will be negatively impacted by the end of the softwood lumber agreement with the United States, which has resulted in new tariffs averaging about 20% for many Canadian suppliers. After the U.S. housing market recovers, growth in forestry’s output is projected to weaken, as the declining trend anticipated in household formation (due to slower demographic growth and population aging) will dampen the outlook for housing starts in North America. At the same time, annual allowable cuts (AAC) are expected to be reduced in several provinces, particularly in regions of inland British Columbia that were decimated by the mountain pine beetle outbreak. This factor, combined with stricter environmental regulations, will keep adding pressures on timber supply. Anaemic growth projected in the pulp and paper industry will also inhibit output growth in the forestry industry. On a positive note, the emergence of the biomass fuel industry and the increasing use of wood as a “greener” construction alternative for mid-rise and taller buildings are expected to support demand for forestry products over the long term. The new trade restrictions imposed by the U.S. administration could encourage additional focus on Asian markets, particularly China, while the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) could also help to support exports since the European Union is the world’s third largest importer of wood. Production growth is expected to come from additional gains in productivity resulting from automation and the increasing use of machinery. As a result, employment in the industry is projected to keep declining over the 2017-2026 horizon, albeit at a much slower pace than the previous ten years, down by 0.2% annually.

Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Forestry and Logging

Figure showing the annual growth of real GDP and employment over the periods 2007-2016 and 2017-2026 for the industry of Forestry and Logging. The data is shown on the table following this figure

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2017 COPS industrial scenario (projections).

Text Version of Figure Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Forestry and Logging, 2007-2016 and 2017-2026, in Percent
  Real GDP Employment
2007-2016 -0.8 -2.6
2017-2026 0.8 -0.2

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2017 COPS industrial scenario (projections).

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