Lumber production helps Alberta’s forestry sector advance

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX:  At a time when many skilled labour jobs are being reduced, forestry’s continued growth means that demand for skilled trades-women and men could pick up.

Alberta’s forestry sector continued to flex its muscles during the third quarter of last year. Although the total value of lumber, pulp and paper and panelboard manufactured fell over the quarter, the Alberta Forest Products Association reports that total value of production from AFPA members was up four per cent from the same time the previous year.

Since the third quarter of 2013, lumber has led the charge for Alberta’s forest products industry; the production volume of lumber has increased by 3.4 per cent. More impressive though is the growth in the total value of lumber, which has grown by 18 per cent. Panelboard—which fell seven per cent over the quarter—hasn’t quite kept up with the pace of lumber. Panelboard production remains 2.0 per cent higher than 2013’s levels.

Housing market conditions south of our border have helped lift the industry. Additionally, lumber and panelboard prices remain at elevated levels, which continue to reward our province’s forestry producers. The tired Canadian dollar has made exports cheaper for cross-border buyers which has also benefited producers.

AFPA President and CEO Paul Whittaker said the sustained growth of Alberta’s forestry sector is good news going in to this year, “Four per cent growth for our industry means more investment into communities, stable jobs for Albertans, and an important source of economic diversity for Alberta.”

At a time when many skilled labour jobs are being reduced, forestry’s continued growth means that demand for skilled trades-women and men could pick up.

Nick Ford • Economist     March 24, 2015

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