The Hardwood Industry: Economic Engine of the U.S.

For those of us who work in the hardwood industry, it is no secret that thousands of people are employed by our mills, yards, and manufacturing facilities, and that the economic impact of this business on local communities is tremendous. However, just how important the industry is economically has never really been known…until now.

Last year, 12 member associations of the Hardwood Federation, including the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), came together in a coordinated effort to study the impacts of the hardwood industry on the U.S. economy. The results were staggering. According to the final report, the hardwood industry helps to employ nearly 21 million people and contributes $394 billion to the U.S. economy. Hardwood producers and manufacturers, including sawmills, lumberyards, flooring companies, kitchen cabinet manufacturers, and railway ties, directly support nearly 750,000 jobs, generating $38 billion in annual income. Related industries, including transportation retail, forest owners, and logging, support more than 1.4 million jobs and add $241 billion to the economy. For every $1 million in output of hardwood products, 5.3 jobs are created.

American hardwoods are also a valuable export commodity. In 2017, U.S. hardwood producers shipped $4.04 billion worth of U.S. products to global markets and supported over 200,000 jobs.

The study also examined individual sectors within the overall hardwood industry, including wood flooring. Numbers for the flooring sector are impressive: 45,000 jobs and $8.5 billion contributed overall to the U.S. economy. State-by-state data was also produced and is available for review.

Hardwood companies are often a top employer in their mostly rural communities, and support significant numbers of spin-off jobs locally. Wood and wood products are literally the building blocks of this country, and the industry takes pride in its history and the environmentally sustainable products it produces. This report shines a bright light on the importance and value of an industry too often overlooked.

The report will be used by the Hardwood Federation to educate Trump administration representatives, members of Congress, and other key stakeholders in Washington, D.C. We are confident that regional, state, and local hardwood associations will also be able to use the data to communicate with governors, state legislatures, and the public about the positive economic benefits of the industry and how policymakers can help support and sustain hardwood businesses.

The report will also have a starring role when the industry gathers for the annual Fly-In to Washington, D.C. in September. The full study may be found at hardwoodfederation.com. If you lobby in your state, you can find data by state to present to local officials.

The hardwood industry economic impact study was conducted by Agribusiness Consulting. Generous funding for the project was provided by the NWFA along with the following Hardwood Federation members: the American Hardwood Export Council, the Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Inc., the Decorative Hardwoods Association, the Hardwood Federation, the Hardwood Manufacturers Association, the Indiana Hardwood Lumberman’s Association, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, the Lake States Lumber Association, the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association, the National Hardwood Lumber Association, the Railway Tie Association, and the Wood Component Manufacturers Association. Additional support was provided by the Hardwood Market Report and the Pennsylvania Lumbermen’s Mutual Insurance Company.

The Hardwood Federation greatly appreciates the support of the NWFA in the execution of this project. We simply could not have done it without the financial contribution as well as the input and insight as we moved through the process.

Dana Lee Cole is Executive Director at the Hardwood Federation, a Washington, D.C.-based hardwood industry trade association that represents thousands of hardwood businesses in every state in the U.S. and acts as the industry’s advocacy voice on Capitol Hill. She can be reached at dana.cole@hardwoodfederation.com.

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