A newly released report shows that Kentucky’s forests are a significant component of the state economy.
The University of Kentucky economic impact study by UK forestry experts found that 2014 looks bright for increased economic growth in the state’s forestry industries.
Jeff Stringer, UK extension professor for hardwood silviculture and forest operations, Billy Thomas, extension associate for family forest education, Bobby Ammerman, extension associate for secondary forest industry, and Alison Davis, associate extension professor in the UK Department of Agricultural Economics, are the authors of the study released during a recent press conference at the Kentucky Forest Industries Association annual meeting at the Brown Hotel.
The forest and wood industry is made up of six subsectors: logging, primary wood manufacturing, pulp and paper manufacturing, secondary wood manufacturing, paper converters and wood residue manufacturing.
“The widespread economic impact of the forest and wood industries in Kentucky is considerable. Our analysis indicated it provided more than 59,000 jobs and a total economic impact of $12.8 billion in 2013,” Stringer said.
That number reflects an increase of 3.3 percent compared to 2011. The report estimates the industry provided $7.9 billion in direct contributions to the state’s economy, an increase of 2.9 percent from 2011. Employment increased by 4.3 percent over the past two years. The report’s authors estimate that sawmills and logging operations saw increases in direct revenues in 2013, $826 million and $717 million, respectively. Secondary wood industries had $1.9 billion in direct revenues, also an increase.
“The increases in logging and milling are related to improvements in the overall U.S. economy and increased housing starts,” Stringer said. “Kentucky currently is growing almost two times more trees than are being harvested, and timber supplies will allow steady sustainablegrowth in 2014.”
Kentucky is among the top three hardwood sawlog producers in the nation and the leading producer in the South as well as being one of the leading producers of hardwood forest products in the South. Kentucky exports are strong, and the commonwealth’s wood products can be found across the nation and around the world. Wooden barrels led exports through the first half of 2013, followed by oak lumber—which had a 71 percent increase—hardwood pulp, other lumber and railway ties. Of the exports, 40 percent went to Europe, 28 percent to Mexico and Canada and 20 percent to Asia.
Bob Bauer, executive director of Kentucky Forest Industries Association, sees the improvement in the industry as encouraging.
“The latest economic figures show that the industry is expanding in all segments in Kentucky,” Bauer said. “These figures show the importance of the wood industry to Kentucky’s economy, and it is great to see things improving from recent hard times.”
The full2013-2014 Kentucky Forestry Economic Impact Report can be found at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/forestryextension/economicreport.php.