NAHB: Sawmill production continues to lag behind on house construction

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The failure of national sawmills to boost housing production in the face of continued strong demand from home buyers has been a main factor contributing to record lumber prices and volatility in 2021, according to the NAHB. While the workforce has been one reason given for the lack of lumber production in the United States, the NAHB analysis indicates that employment in the sawmill industry is higher than it is. a year ago.

In October 2021, the most recent data available, sawmill employment was 90,100. This is an increase of 2.4% from October 2020, or a net gain of 2,100 jobs. Residential construction employment increased 4.0% or 118,500 net jobs over the same period.

With the increase in the number of workers, sawmill production increased in the 12 months ending September 2021, albeit on an unstable trend. Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that the seasonally adjusted sawmill production rate in September 2021 (the most recent available) was 1.2% higher than in September 2020. However, production in the third quarter of 2021 was 1% lower. , 3% compared to the third quarter of 2020..

Total sawmill production in 2020 increased 3.3% from 2019 due to a recovery in production at the end of the year. This increase continued in the first nine months of 2021, with production through September being 3.1% higher than the same period in 2020. Compared to 2019, however, production was only 1.6% higher.

The increase in production in 2020 was not sufficient to meet the demand for residential construction and remained the case in 2021. The growing gap between single-family housing starts and sawmill production, particularly in 2020, is at the origin of the spectacular increase in lumber production. prices. It’s important to keep in mind that single-family home starts rose 13.6% in 2020 and 15.7% year-to-date in 2021.

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