8 billion dollars – that’s the total economic impact the forest industry has on our state. This is just one piece of information in a new report published by the Maine Forest Products Council, that has the latest facts and figures on Maine’s Forest Economy.
Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council says, “I think we wanted to just create a vision of this powerful machine that’s adapting and changing..and it’s going to be the source of jobs now and in the future.”
The report includes everything from the forest industry’s challenges — like the retirement of the baby boomer generation — and its trends over the years.
Strauch says, “while you’ll see employment – we’ve seen employment go down, productivity has gone up and wages for those workers has gone up also and that’s a reflection of being globally competitive and investing in technology.”
Bob Dorsey, President and CEO of the Aroostook Partnership for Progress says, “You may think the forest industry is dying but it isn’t. It’s more automated, there’s more technology, there’s more products being built, we’re doing things better, and there’s a lot of good jobs in this area now and I think more jobs coming in the future.”
Strauch says something important this report points out is that 1 out of 20 jobs in our state is associated with the forest products sector. And of those 39-thousand jobs, almost 7000 of them are right here in Aroostook County.
“Every county has a a component of the forest industry has a component that’s connected to it.” he says.
Strauch says Maine’s forests are healthy and being managed in a sustainable manner..and for workers, logging injuries and workers comp rates have dropped.
“We’re still trying to create reports about where we need to invest more, and education and regulatory issues, the cost of energy, and you’ll be seeing more of those ideas coming out as we get people talking more about what the vision of Maine should be in the forest economy.”