Employment of logging workers is expected to increase by 4 percent between 2010 and 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Logging workers should have good job prospects overall.
New policies allowing some access to federal timberland may result in some logging jobs. Federal legislation designed to prevent destructive wildfires by proactively thinning susceptible forests may result in additional jobs.
Foreign and domestic demand for wood products, such as wood pellets, is expected to lead to some employment growth.
Nonetheless, domestic timber producers continue to face increasing competition from foreign producers, which can harvest at a lower cost.
The logging industry will continue to consolidate to reduce costs, an approach that may offset the creation of new jobs.
Increased mechanization of logging operations and improvements in logging equipment will continue to depress demand for many timber-cutting and logging workers who work by hand.
Overall employment should decline as more labor-saving equipment is used. Employment of machinery and equipment operators will be less affected and should rise as logging companies switch away from tree felling by hand.
Despite slower-than-average employment growth, job opportunities should be good because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation for other jobs that are less physically demanding.
Employment of logging workers can be unsteady because changes in the level of construction, particularly residential construction, can cause short-term slowdowns in logging activities.
In addition, logging operations must be relocated when all of the timber in a particular area has been harvested. During prolonged periods of inactivity, some workers may stay on the job to maintain or repair logging machinery and equipment while others are laid off or forced to find jobs elsewhere.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition