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01/10/2022

NAHB: Domestic sawmills not keeping up with housing demand

Home builder association says the sawmill industry has pointed to labor challenges as a major reason for limited manufacturing.
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Sawmill production

The current output of domestic sawmills is not keeping pace with residential construction needs, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported.

According to the NAHB, mills have not been kept up with the needs of home builders since mid-2020. The result has been “unstainable gains” in home prices while housing inventory remains low and demand is strong due to low mortgage rates.

Citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sawmill employment is higher than a year ago. As of October 2021 — the most recent data available — sawmill employment was 90,100. This is a 2.4% increase from October 2020 and a net gain of 2,100 jobs. Residential construction employment has been up 4%, or 118,500 net jobs, over the same period.

But the sawmill industry has pointed to labor challenges as a major reason for limited manufacturing, the association said.

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The NAHB also reported that total sawmill output in 2020 was up 3.3% compared to 2019 because of a year-end upswing in production. 

The increase continued over the first nine months of 2021 with output through September 3.1% higher than it was over the same period in 2020. Compared to 2019 output was just 1.6% higher, however.

The association says the 2020 increase in output was insufficient to keep up with the demand from residential construction, and this remained the case in 2021.