Growing demand for housing has made the timber industry cautiously optimistic: As more homes are built, the outlook for forest products has improved.
Todd Morgan of the Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research told The Great Falls Tribune that timber prices have risen during the housing recovery and are expected to continue moving upward as the sector bounces back from “hitting rock bottom” in 2008 and 2009.
Wages in the forest products sector have increased since then as well. In Montana, for example, the average salary of a full-time worker in the industry is $49,300, 25% higher than the average wage in the state.
Although lumber production has grown in each of the past five years, a shortage of logs has left mills unable to keep up with demand. Industry advocates have called on the U.S. Forest Service, which controls about 62% of Montana’s forest land, to allow more logging and ramp up the number of board feet available for production.