One of Idaho’s industries hardest hit by the recent housing boom and bust is forest products. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the timber harvest from Idaho national forests dropped from 172 million board feet in 1999 to 121.2 million board feet in 2008. The Idaho Division of Financial Management’s 2011 economic forecast reported there are about half as many mills in the inland region as there were 20 years ago. Still, the report projects growth in the industry over the next few years…
“Idaho lumber and wood products employment hit a trough of 5,700 jobs in 2010 which was about 40 percent below its 2006 peak of 10,000 jobs. It’s projected to grow each year of the forecast, but it’s not fast enough to top the previous peak.”
The Division of Financial Management believes an increase in housing starts will help fuel a mild recovery in wood production.