Maine is known as the “Pine Tree State.” It gained statehood in 1820 and has had a thriving lumber industry ever since it was colonized. Even when it was part of the Massachusetts Territory, the lumber trade with England was thriving. The first official sawmill in the state was constructed in 1634.
Logging life in the early days was quite difficult. Many came down from Canada to work, especially around the turn of the 20th century. A good lumberman could earn up to $30 per month, depending on how much work they did and the level of skill they had. Work went from dawn to dusk, which then meant retiring to a logging camp at night, which was essentially a rustic military-style barracks.
The Maine lumber industry has advanced its harvesting practices, improved wages, and safety levels are higher than ever. At the same time, the history of the industry still drives profits. One company, called Dead Head Lumber, even takes abandoned logs from the early days of logging and turns it into a recoverable product.
Encouraging Maine Lumber Industry Statistics
#1. The estimated economic impact of the Maine lumber industry in 2016 was $8.5 billion. This is down from 2014 figures, where the impact was $9.8 billion. It is still equal to the economic achieved in 2011. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#2. In 2016, about 14,500 people were directly employed by the Maine lumber industry. In 2011, more than 17,000 people were directly employed. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#3. Another 19,000 people were given indirect employment opportunities because of the forestry industry in Maine in 2016. That’s about 5,000 fewer people than figures released in 2014. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#4. About $278 million in state and local taxes were paid by the Maine lumber industry in 2016. In 2011, about $320 million in taxes were paid by the industry. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#5. Despite the total number of employment losses, wages have been rising within the lumber industry in Maine. The total payroll in 2016 was an estimated $1.8 billion. In 2011, the total payroll was $2 billion. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#6. Forest products account for about 27% of Maine’s total exports. The top three products are paper, general wood items, and forest products that are not specified elsewhere. (Maine International Trade Center)
#7. 8.3 million acres are certified in Maine as sustainably managed forest for the lumber industry. That is nearly half of all the working forests that currently produce lumber within the state. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#8. About 17.6 million acres, or 89% of the total land in Maine, contributes to the lumber industry. Over 90% of the forested lands are privately owned. Just 1.2% of forests that produce lumber are owned by the U.S. government. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#9. In 2014, 69% of the output impact of the Maine lumber industry came through pulp and paper processing. Actual lumber products, such as plywood, lumber, veneer, and solid woods accounts for 23% of the output impact. The remainder came through logging, hauling, and biomass. (University of Maine)
#10. More than 459 million cubic feet of wood was taken from the forests of Maine to be turned into various products. Half of it was turned into pulpwood. About 28% was turned into sawlogs. Another 20% was turned into biomass for electricity, while 2.6% of the harvest was turned into pellets or firewood. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#11. In 2015, growth levels within the Maine lumber industry exceeded the actual lumber harvest by 55%. Since 2008, the industry has been able to have growth levels exceed harvest levels. The ratio of 1.55:1 achieved in 2015 was the best ration since 1971. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#12. The forestlands of Maine contain more than 24 billion live trees right now that are more than 1 inch in diameter. That is an increase in total tree numbers of 2% from a census conducted in 2010. That means there are more than 18,000 trees for every resident of the state right now. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#13. Over 98% of the forested areas that are harvested by the Maine lumber industry utilize natural regeneration methods for restoration. Just 1.9% of forests are regenerated by planting new trees. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#14. There are 20 states that make up the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station. Maine is ranked #1 in forestland percentage, #3 in acreage, and #11 in land acreage. It is only 1 of 4 states that are more than 75% forested and the only state in the U.S. that is above 85% forested. (Maine Forest Products Council)
#15. The highest average annual wage paid by the Maine lumber industry comes from the pulp, paper, and paperboard mills. Workers there make more than $82,000 per year. Workers performing the actual logging earn an average salary of just $45,000 per year. (Maine Department of Labor Center)
#16. Global economic recessions are responsible for many of the declines experienced by the Maine lumber industry. There has been a 25% reduction in markets, which has led to six mills being shuttered by the industry. (Bangor Daily News)
#17. In 2016, the Maine lumber industry contributed a total of $8.5 billion, directly and indirectly, to the state’s economy. (Bangor Daily News)
#18. The Maine lumber industry contributes $1 out of every $16 in the state’s gross state product. About 1 out of every 20 jobs is somehow associated with the forest products sector in Maine. (Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association)
#19. About 25% of the wood that is used for the making of forest products comes from family-owned forests in Maine. (Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association)
Maine Lumber Industry Trends and Analysis
The Maine lumber industry has been thriving since the 17th century. Although the total number of workers is in decline and overall revenues have decreased in the past 10 years, the industry itself is ready to push toward stronger profits once again. Wages are rising. The amount of available lumber is near record levels.
No state in the U.S. has access to the same level of lumber and forestry products as the state of Maine. That is why this industry, though in a current decline, is still forecast to provide strong supports for the local economy.
Almost 90% of private woodland owners in Maine are satisfied with current harvesting practices. 86% of woodland owners are satisfied with the financial outcomes achieved for them by the Maine lumber industry. With continued sustainability practices, look for Maine to continue dominate the American lumber industry for many years to come.