Forest products, a traditional mainstay sector in Idaho, continues to play an important role in many Idaho communities. Idaho’s forest products sector — logging, wood product mills, paper factories and furniture manufacturing — provided more than 11,700 jobs in 2018. In addition, a few thousand more worked at trucking companies transporting logs, wood products and pulp.
Employment has grown 35 percent from the recession-caused low point of 8,705 in 2010, but it is still 18 percent below its 2006 peak of 14,327 and far below its heyday in the 1970s.
The job losses mostly resulted from the impact of technology, which allows a mill to produce twice as much lumber today as it did 25 years ago with the same number of workers and from reduced timber harvests from Forest Service land following changes in policies that occurred in the 1990s. From 1990 to 2000, the timber harvest on federal lands in Idaho fell from 704 million to 149 million board feet.