Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Industrial Summary

Wood Product Manufacturing

NAICS 3211; 3212; 3219

This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing products from wood. It is composed of three different segments: sawmills and wood preservation (46% of total production in 2016); veneer, plywood and engineered wood products (26%); and other wood products such as doors, windows and frames (28%). Overall, about 55% of the industry’s production is shipped abroad, mostly to the United States which account for 80% of exports. China is the second largest export market as the share of that country in Canada’s wood exports reached 11% in 2014, before declining to 9% in 2015 and 7% in 2016. The three segments, however, do not face the same degree of exposure to domestic and foreign economic conditions. Sawmills and wood preservation along with veneer, plywood and engineered wood products are highly dependant on foreign demand, with exports accounting for 77% and 60% of production respectively. In contrast, other wood products are far more sensitive to domestic demand with 80% of production sold within the country. The industry employed 122,200 workers in 2016 (7.6% of total manufacturing employment), with 38% in sawmills and wood preservation, 13% in veneer, plywood and engineered wood products, and 49% in other wood products. Employment is mostly concentrated in Quebec (35%), British Columbia (26%) and Ontario (18%), and the workforce is primarily composed of men (84%). Key occupations (4-digit NOC) include:

  • Labourers in wood, pulp and paper processing (9614) Other wood products assemblers and inspectors (9533)
  • Supervisors, forest products processing (9215)
  • Sawmill machine operators (9431)
  • Woodworking machine operators (9437)
  • Other wood processing machine operators (9434)
  • Lumber graders and other wood processing inspectors and graders (9436)

* Key occupations for manufacturing industries in general also include: Manufacturing managers (0911); Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics (7311); Material handlers (7452); Shippers and receivers (1521); Transport truck drivers (7511); Industrial engineering and manufacturing technologists and technicians (2233); Industrial electricians (7242); and Industrial and manufacturing engineers (2141).

The combination of the collapse in the U.S. housing market, beginning in 2006, and the ensuing global recession left an undeniable mark on Canada’s wood products industry over the last decade. Real GDP and employment fell sharply between 2006 and 2009, posting cumulative drops of 32% and 26% respectively, primarily due to substantial declines in exports. The industry experienced significant consolidations, as many firms could not remain competitive and were forced to shut down. Since 2010, however, a recovery has taken place in production, driven by improving conditions in the U.S. housing market as well as a booming Chinese market. Indeed, real GDP in the wood products industry outgrew Canada’s overall manufacturing sector for a fifth consecutive year in 2016 to stand at roughly 97% of its 2006 levels. With the recovery in production, employment stopped declining and remained relatively stable from 2011 to 2015, before falling again in 2016, down by 18%. On average, real GDP contracted by 0.3% annually over the period 2007-2016, while employment fell at a more severe pace of 5.0%. During that period, the industry lost 82,000 workers, representing 40% of its workforce. The large gap between the decline in output and the decline in employment primarily reflects substantial gains in productivity since 2010, driven by a significant pickup in investment in machinery and equipment, technological innovations in sawmills, increasing concentration of businesses, larger economies of scales, and higher value added through product development, particularly for wood fibre.

The combination of the collapse in the U.S. housing market, beginning in 2006, and the ensuing global recession left an undeniable mark on Canada’s wood products industry over the last decade. Real GDP and employment fell sharply between 2006 and 2009, posting cumulative drops of 32% and 26% respectively, primarily due to substantial declines in exports. The industry experienced significant consolidations, as many firms could not remain competitive and were forced to shut down. Since 2010, however, a recovery has taken place in production, driven by improving conditions in the U.S. housing market as well as a booming Chinese market. Indeed, real GDP in the wood products industry outgrew Canada’s overall manufacturing sector for a fifth consecutive year in 2016 to stand at roughly 97% of its 2006 levels. With the recovery in production, employment stopped declining and remained relatively stable from 2011 to 2015, before falling again in 2016, down by 18%. On average, real GDP contracted by 0.3% annually over the period 2007-2016, while employment fell at a more severe pace of 5.0%. During that period, the industry lost 82,000 workers, representing 40% of its workforce. The large gap between the decline in output and the decline in employment primarily reflects substantial gains in productivity since 2010, driven by a significant pickup in investment in machinery and equipment, technological innovations in sawmills, increasing concentration of businesses, larger economies of scales, and higher value added through product development, particularly for wood fibre.

Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Wood Product Manufacturing

Figure showing the annual growth of real GDP and employment over the periods 2007-2016 and 2017-2026 for the industry of Wood Product Manufacturing. 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 Wood Product Manufacturing, 2007-2016 and 2017-2026, in Percent
  Real GDP Employment
2007-2016 -0.3 -5.0
2017-2026 1.4 0.2

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


Date modified: