The reduction in employment in Canada’s forestry industry has been profound in the past two decades. In 1992, there were over 77,000 people working directly in the forestry sector (not including downstream processing, transportation, etc.) and now it is down to under 39,000. In New Brunswick, the decline – on a relative basis has been slightly less steep but because we started with a higher base it’s actual impact has been higher.
As shown below, in 1992, there were nearly 18 workers in the forestry sector for every 1,000 in the economy as a whole. That had dropped to 13 in 2002 and to 7.9 in 2012. In 1992, NB had 2.5 times as many people working in the forestry compared to Canada as a whole and now it is actually up to 3.1 because of the decline elsewhere.
The good news here is that output has rebounded and the value of exports is increasing again. The industry is smaller but much more productive. As you can see from the second table below, it takes 9.5 full time equivalent jobs (direct and supply chain) to generate $ 1 million of direct industry output in New Brunswick considerably lower than both Nova Scotia and Quebec and similar to Ontario. British Columbia sets the pace in Canada for labour market productivity in forestry and logging.
The key here is that the industry is still a substantial economic driver for New Brunswick and will continue to be.