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Indicator: Employment

In 2018, Canada’s forest sector employed 210,615 people, essentially stable (-0.34%) between 2017 and 2018.

  • Employment in pulp and paper and wood product manufacturing decreased between 2017 and 2018, by 1.65% and 1.38%, respectively.
  • The only gain in employment occurred within in-forest jobs, which grew by 2.88% between 2017 and 2018. Some of this growth may be attributed to fire-related activities.
  • The pulp and paper and the wood product manufacturing industries both faced challenges in 2018. These challenges included the continuing decline in demand for paper products and lower commodity prices for wood products, which along with others, have impacted employment.

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 more skilled and more highly paid. (See the sustainability indicator Average Earnings.)

Forest industry direct employment, 2008–2018


Graph summary

The bar graph shows the relative distribution of forest industry direct employment from pulp and paper product manufacturing, wood product manufacturing and in-forest activities. The total number of jobs peeks in 2008 and decreased in 2009, afterward the total number of jobs fluctuates slightly until the present. The proportion of jobs from wood product manufacturing is always higher than the other two industries with pulp and paper product manufacturing and in-forest activities having similar proportions of jobs.

Graph data
Table below displays direct employment in the forest industry for each year between 2008 and 2018 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
2008 74,095 102,350 62,225
2009 66,865 87,855 56,430
2010 65,350 91,245 55,975
2011 61,010 87,795 56,855
2012 58,865 89,055 53,360
2013 60,125 91,760 52,665
2014 59,735 92,120 52,225
2015 58,955 94,525 52,785
2016 56,365 97,190 54,135
2017 57,355 98,825 55,155
2018 56,410 97,460 56,745

Why is this indicator important?

  • The Canadian forest sector 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, in which forest-related work is often the main source of income.

What is the outlook?

  • Several challenges could impact employment, such as slower economic growth forecasted for 2019 and volatile commodity prices. Also, the impact of fires and pests on the fibre supply could affect forest sector employment in the short term. Yet the positive market perspective for several forest products (packaging, lumber) could drive an increase in production and employment. The short-term outlook for forest sector employment will depend on the interplay between these drivers of production.
  • In the long term, forest sector diversification through the bioeconomy (e.g. mass timber products for tall wood building construction) will create new job opportunities in Canada’s forest sector.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

Sources and information

Table of contents — The State of Canada's Forests Report

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