Indicator: Employment

Employment has remained largely stable since 2011. Total direct employment in the Canadian forest industry decreased slightly in 2016 to 211,075 jobs (a decline of 1.1%), following three years of slight increases.

  • Employment in pulp and paper manufacturing continued to decline as demand for paper products falls.
  • Employment in forestry and wood product manufacturing increased overall, as demand rose from the U.S. housing market.
  • In the Prairie provinces, employment in forestry and wood product manufacturing fell because of the Fort McMurray forest fire and slowing economic activity in the region from low oil prices.

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, 2006–2016
Graph displaying direct employment in the forest industry in thousands of jobs for each year between 2006 and 2016 for pulp and paper product manufacturing, wood product manufacturing, in-forest activities and total forest industry direct employment.
Graph data
Table displays direct employment in the forest industry in thousands of jobs for each year between 2006 and 2016 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
2006 86,515 136,170 68,100
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 61,435 93,335 54,090
2014 62,830 95,115 53,630
2015 62,775 96,210 54,445
2016 57,685 98,690 54,700

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?

  • Over the long term, forest industry employment is expected to remain stable, with losses in pulp and paper manufacturing being balanced by gains in other sectors.
  • The ongoing softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. has the potential to negatively impact forestry employment across Canada in the short term.
  • 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 Forest report. 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 221,623 people across the country in 2016.