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Indicator: Forest sector average earnings

In 2019, average earnings across the forest sector increased slightly from 2018 levels. They increased by 4.6% between 2018 and 2019, almost reaching 2016 levels – the highest in 10 years – with an average of about $54,000 annually. However, average earnings tend to be volatile year-over-year, but with a fairly stable underlying trend since 2001.

  • Between 2018 and 2019, only the pulp and paper manufacturing subsector saw a significant increase in average earnings, with a bump of 10.8%. This increase was the result of a combination of salaries slightly increasing combined with employment decreasing, as the least productive mills of that subsector ceased operations.
  • The wood product manufacturing and in-forest activities subsectors both posted slight increases, of 1.3% and 0.7%, respectively, combined with stable employment.
  • Overall, average earnings in the forest sector out-performed average earnings for all manufacturing, with the latter experiencing a modest 2.3% increase between 2018 and 2019. They have both been following a similar trend since 2001.

Average earnings refers to the average net annual income per person directly employed in the forest sector, not including overtime pay.

Average earnings in the forest sector compared with all manufacturing sectors, 2009 to 2019


Graph summary

Average annual earnings for the forestry and logging subsector rose steadily from a low of $45,000/year in 2009, to a high of $53,000/year in 2019.

Average annual earnings for the pulp and paper products manufacturing subsector rose between 2009 and 2019, but with more annual variability than the other forest subsectors. Average annual earnings were lowest at $55,000/year, in 2009 and rose to $63,000/year in 2019, but had notable drops in 2014 ($56,000/year), and 2018 ($57,000/year).

Average annual earnings for the wood product manufacturing subsector rose steadily from a low of $43,000/year in 2009, to $47,000/year in 2019, with a spike in 2017 to $51,000/year.

Average annual earnings across all manufacturing sectors have remained steady from 2009 to 2019 at about $50,000/year. Average annual earnings were lowest at $49,000/year in 2009, and highest at $52,000/year in 2015. In 2019, the average net annual earnings across all manufacturing sectors was $51,000/year.

Graph data
Table showing the average annual earnings per person, in 2012 dollars, for three forest subsectors (forestry and logging, pulp and paper product manufacturing, and wood product manufacturing) compared to the average annual earnings per person for all manufacturing sectors from 2009 to 2019.
Year Forestry and logging Pulp and paper product manufacturing Wood product manufacturing All manufacturing
2009 44,868 55,147 43,313 48,797
2010 48,910 60,335 44,311 49,826
2011 48,813 60,188 45,093 49,282
2012 48,700 59,670 46,413 49,627
2013 50,691 60,766 46,196 50,152
2014 49,392 56,150 45,777 50,359
2015 51,901 60,738 47,070 51,505
2016 51,740 63,057 47,762 51,389
2017 51,063 60,059 50,528 50,535
2018 52,166 57,013 46,098 49,394
2019 52,529 63,168 46,683 50,503

Why is this indicator important?

  • Trends in forest sector average earnings indicate the importance of the sector to the economy and to the social well-being of Canadians, especially when compared with average earnings in other industries.
  • Real wage growth (meaning wage growth that isn’t the result of inflation) shows the change in actual purchasing power of forest sector employees.

What is the outlook?

  • Moody’s Analytics forecasts the coronavirus-related economic slowdown will adversely impact the forest sector over the short term, which could in turn drag down recent gains in average earnings.
  • In the longer term, average earnings could recover as the forest sector continues its transformation towards the bioeconomy and remaining forest sector activities increase productivity.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

Sources and information

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

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