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Indicator: Forest sector employment

Canada’s forest sector provides thousands of jobs that support workers and communities across the country. In 2018, the forest sector employed 204,555 people and accounted for about 1.1% of total employment in Canada. According to the last census (2016), about 17% of forest sector workers are women and about 12% are immigrants. In addition, about 12,000 Indigenous people worked in the forest sector in 2016, representing about 7% of the sector’s workforce.

COVID-19 and forest sector employment

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt across the economy, including in the forest sector. As of June 2020, there were over 100 facility closures or curtailments, affecting close to 20,000 workers. While most of these impacts are temporary, they could have a lasting effect on certain workers (see What is the outlook?)

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected data availability and 2019 employment data were not available at the time of publication. However, it is anticipated that 2019 employment data will show a decreasing trend. Despite the overall strength and competitiveness of the forest sector, the sector contended with multiple challenges that led to mill closures and curtailments in 2019, which are expected to affect sector employment.

  • Employment in the wood product manufacturing subsector has been increasing in recent years; the subsector accounted for almost 50% of total forest sector employment in 2018.
  • In 2018, the pulp and paper product manufacturing subsector accounted for about 26% of forest sector employment. However, over the past few years, the number of jobs in this subsector has declined. A declining demand for newsprint and printing and writing paper is driving the trend, as more people adopt digital media in place of paper products.
  • In-forest activities, including nursery operations, tree planting, timber cruising, and logging, accounted for about 26% of forest sector employment in 2018. Employment in this subsector has been relatively stable.
  • The forest sector is highly integrated, so jobs across all forest subsectors are interdependent. As a result, the closure of a mill or forest product manufacturing facility can have ripple effects throughout the supply chain — both upstream and downstream of the affected mill or facility.
Distribution of forest sector jobs by subsector, 2018
Donut chart displaying direct employment in the forest sector, by percentage, in 2018, for three subsectors, described below.
Graph summary

Donut chart showing the distribution of forest sector jobs, as a percentage, by subsector, in 2018. The wood product manufacturing subsector made up slightly less than half of all forest sector jobs, with about 99,000 jobs. The number of jobs in the pulp and paper manufacturing subsector and in the in-forest activities subsector were about equal – respectively making up about a quarter of all forest sector jobs, with each employing about 53,000 people in 2018.

Graph data
Table showing the distribution of direct employment, by percentage, in the forest sector in 2018 for three subsectors: paper product manufacturing, wood product manufacturing and in-forest activities.
Subsector Jobs
Pulp and paper product manufacturing 53,035
Wood product manufacturing 98,955
In-forest activities 52,565
 

Forest sector direct employment, 2009 to 2019

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Graph summary

Between 2009 and 2018, total employment fluctuated around 205,000 jobs, with a high of 211,000 in 2010, and a low of 199,000 in 2012, with no clear increasing or decreasing trend during those years. In 2018, total employment in the forest sector was about 205,000 jobs.

The pulp and paper product manufacturing subsector experienced the largest loss of employment between 2009 and 2018, with 65,000 people employed in 2009, and 53,000 employed in 2018.

The number of jobs in the wood product manufacturing subsector grew steadily from 2009 until 2018, when 99,000 people were employed in the subsector.

The number of people employed in the in-forest activities sub-sector decreased from about 56,000 people in 2009 to about 53,000 people in 2018.

Graph data
Table showing direct employment in the forest sector for each year from 2009 to 2019 for three subsectors: pulp and paper product manufacturing, wood product manufacturing and in-forest activities.
Year Pulp and paper product manufacturing Wood product manufacturing In-forest activities
2009 64,725 86,475 56,240
2010 64,275 90,975 55,615
2011 60,210 86,505 57,195
2012 57,885 88,365 52,250
2013 58,170 91,525 52,190
2014 58,140 91,330 51,810
2015 57,120 91,465 52,020
2016 55,060 96,660 54,275
2017 55,385 98,395 52,185
2018 53,035 98,955 52,565
2019 - - -

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.
  • The forest sector’s contribution to employment is particularly important in many rural and Indigenous communities, where forest-related work is often the main source of income.

What is the outlook?

  • The COVID-19 pandemic could affect demand for forest products over the next few years because slower economic growth is forecasted. Challenges such as forest fires, pests and trade disputes will also continue to affect forest sector employment.
  • Despite these challenges, there are significant opportunities for the forest sector to remain a key employer in communities across the country and to support inclusive clean growth. Forest sector diversification through the growth of the circular bioeconomy (e.g. bioproducts and bioenergy) will create new job opportunities across the country.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

  • Montréal Process : 6.3.a
Sources and information
  • Statistics Canada. 2016 Census of Population, customized tables. (accessed March 17, 2020).
  • Statistics Canada. Table 36-10-0489-01 (formerly CANSIM 383-0031): Labour statistics consistent with the System of National Accounts (SNA), by job category and industry. (accessed June 2, 2020).
    • Data include NAICS 113, 1153, 321, and 322.
    • Employment includes jobs held by people employed directly in the following industries: forestry and logging, support activities for forestry, pulp and paper product manufacturing, and wood product manufacturing.
    • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service prefers to use employment data from Statistics Canada’s System of National Accounts because these data are linked to the underlying framework used to compile the Canadian System of National Accounts.
    • Statistics Canada updated the Labour statistics consistent with the System of National Accounts in February 2020, which included several changes to the 2018 employment data for NAICS 113, 1153, 321, and 322 that were initially released on May 22nd, 2019. This means that the 2018 SNA data reported here are adjusted from values reported in previous editions of the State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report.

Indigenous employment in the forest sector

  • Statistics Canada. 2016 Census of Population (special extraction, April 20, 2018).
    • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service calculations for Indigenous employment are based on Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census of Population.
    • These values refer to the number of people employed, not in the labour force, which includes those unemployed.
    • Indigenous refers to people who are First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit). Indigenous also refers to people who are Registered or Treaty Indians (that is, registered under the Indian Act) and/or those who have membership in a First Nation or Indian band.
 

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

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