Indicator: Employment

Employment in the forest industry has been largely stable over the past nine years. Between 2016 and 2017, overall forest sector employment grew slightly by 1.9%.

  • Some increase in in-forest employment (+3.5%) may be attributed to increased fire-related activities in 2017.
  • Employment in wood product manufacturing has been growing steadily since 2010 and grew again in 2017 (+1.4%).
  • Employment in the pulp and paper sector has been more variable. After three years of decreases, employment in the pulp and paper sector increased slightly in 2017 (+1.8%) thanks to growth in converted paper product manufacturing (e.g., paper bags) offsetting losses in paper manufacturing.

The total number of jobs should always be considered alongside wages and other indicators. With advances in technology, fewer workers are required to produce the same level of output, but those jobs tend to be higher skilled and higher paid. (See Sustainability indicator: Average Earnings.)

Forest industry direct employment, 2007–2017

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Graph data
Table displays direct employment in the forest industry for each year between 2007 and 2017 for: wood product manufacturing, pulp and paper product manufacturing and in-forest activities.
Year Pulp and paper product manufacturing Wood product manufacturing In-forest activities
2007 82,185 115,380 64,660
2008 74,870 102,080 60,540
2009 68,810 90,500 58,210
2010 67,040 93,915 56,275
2011 62,490 88,680 58,425
2012 60,240 89,840 53,910
2013 62,585 93,845 53,210
2014 63,895 93,405 52,675
2015 60,350 94,990 53,630
2016 54,600 97,180 53,880
2017 55,590 98,570 55,780

Why is this indicator important?

  • The Canadian forest industry is an important employer nationwide and contributes to the economic and social welfare of all Canadians.
  • Forestry’s contribution is particularly important in many rural and Indigenous communities, where forest-related work is often the main source of income.

What is the outlook?

  • Pulp and paper sector employment outlooks vary by sub-sector; decline in paper demand is expected to continue leading to more job losses whereas demand for pulp and converted paper products is strong. Continuing job losses in newsprint could be accelerated by trade disputes with the United States.
  • Strong demand for Canadian softwood lumber, especially from the growing US housing market, will ensure job growth in wood product manufacturing, but changes in fibre supply due to forest fires and pest management will challenge growth.
  • In the short term, employment outlook will depend on the interplay of these dynamics. For example, job gains in solid wood product and converted paper manufacturing could offset losses in paper manufacturing, resulting in stable or slight growth in job numbers. In the long term, forest sector diversification (e.g., the bioeconomy) will provide new job opportunities in Canada’s forest sector.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

Sources and information
  • Statistics Canada. CANSIM table 383-0031: Labour statistics consistent with the System of National Accounts (SNA), by province and territory, job category and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) (accessed May 23, 2018).
    • Data from Statistics Canada’s new Natural Resources Satellite Account (NRSA) are a key source of information on the economic contribution of the forest sector in Canada and will be included in future releases of The State of Canada’s Forests. The NRSA is the result of collaboration between NRCan and Statistics Canada and is able to capture additional economic activity in segments of the forest industry that have traditionally been difficult to measure, such as wood furniture manufacturing. According to data from the NRSA, the forest sector directly employed 232,549 people across the country in 2017.
    • Statistics Canada released revised 2016 SNA employment data in 2017. In the 2017 State of Forests report, total forest sector employment was reported as 211,075. This number was revised to 205,660 by Statistics Canada.