Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Pennsylvania Forest Industry and the Housing Slump
ERIE, Pa. (AP, ROBB FREDERICK, Erie Times-News, April 5, 2011) — The recovery, when it comes, will first help guys like Billy Byler. He sells pallet boards for Brush Run Lumber in Spartansburg. Much of Brush Run's wood goes to Canada. The greenhouse people use it to ship flowers. Right now, business is good. The foxglove is budding. But there's a cycle. "Some weeks it slows up," Byler said. "Then it lets loose again. It's not steady-steady, like it used to be."
U.S. lumber companies processed 6.8 billion board feet of hardwood in 2009, according to the U.S. Forest Service. That was a foot of wood for every person on the planet that year.
Much of it came from Pennsylvania. No state grows more hardwood stock. But the business is off. That 6.8 billion board feet was just half of what the industry produced in 1999. And though there is still work — 2,200 companies cut, haul, dry and shape hardwood stock in Pennsylvania — it's harder to find. Those companies employ about 60,000 people, according to data from the Pennsylvania Forest Products Association. That's down a third from 2007.
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