The wood carving industry is one of the oldest in the world today. Wood was used historically to create decorative handles for swords, build tools, and express one’s artistic side. Many ancient societies employed their wood carvers to create statues of religious figures, describe the life of revered figures, or make usable products.
Wood can be carved with a variety of tools, such as the chisel or knife. Modern carvers may use electrical devices to create finished items.
There are three elements of the wood carving industry to consider with these statistics: hobbyists, artisans, and professionals. Each element focuses on a unique element of these industry which supports its overall revenue profile.
Although wood carving tends to be an artistic pursuit, there are practical reasons to create utensils, bowls, and other daily-use items from the medium. Wood is more antibacterial than man-made objects, they won’t scratch the coating on non-stick cookware, and simple mineral oils provide care for the product.
Essential Wood Carving Industry Statistics
#1. There are currently 2,500 architectural woodwork and millwork firms operating in the United States. About 50% of them are members of the Architectural Woodwork Institute. (Woodworking Nation)
#2. For shops producing $250,000 or less in revenue each year, 46% of them are single-person operations. Another 49% of these businesses will employ just two or three people. In comparison, firms earning up to $500,000 employer between 2 to 7 workers. (Woodworking Nation)
#3. 33% of retailers who are involved with the wood carving industry in some way plan to incorporate more architectural woodwork into their product lines. (Woodworking Nation)
#4. 51% of cabinet shops associated with the industry are equipped with CNC machines. (Woodworking Nation)
#5. There are over 460 quality certified architectural woodworkers currently employed in the United States. (Woodworking Nation)
#6. The current value of the wood carving industry (when it incorporates all forms of woodworking) is $17 billion. Annual growth of 2.3% has been achieved over an average of the past 5 years. (IBIS World)
#7. There are about 8,600 firms currently associated with the woodworking industry, providing about 70,000 employment opportunities which cover several different sectors. (IBIS World)
#8. Wood product manufacturing is an industry which is valued at $8 billion in the United States. From 2013 to 2018, the industry experienced annualized growth rates which averaged 4.5%. (IBIS World)
#9. Over 7,300 firms are currently engaged in the wood product manufacturing process, providing over 38,000 direct employment opportunities which contribute to local economies. The number of firms grew by 3.3% for the industry, while the number of employment opportunities increased by 5.3%. (IBIS World)
#10. Canada is the world’s largest supplier of forest products, which contributes $17.1 billion to their national economy in export value alone. 47% of the wood products offered by Canada are softwood lumber, newsprint, or kraft pulp. Over 31 billion kg of wood are processed into items that are carved or used for miscellaneous purposes each year. The U.S. provides 19.5 billion kg of processed wood, while Sweden offers 18.5 billion kg. (World Atlas)
#11. In the United States, wood carvers earn a median pay of $49,000 per year, which equates to nearly $24 per hour. They are classified in the “craft and fine artists” category, which offers a total of 53,400 jobs. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
#12. The demand for wood carvers in the United States is expected to grow at 6% through 2026, which is about the average for all industries in the country. That means there is the potential for an additional 3,100 wood carvers to find work in the coming years.
#13. Artwork in all its forms generates over $700 billion in economic supports for the economy in the United States each year. That’s 4.3% of the GDP. (AftrArt)
#14. If all the employment opportunities in the arts are counted (not just wood carvers), there are 4.3 million jobs available to those who are looking for creative employment. (AftrArt)
#15. Artists are 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed compared to the average employee. (AftrArt)
#16. Graduates with artistic degrees (including wood carvers) have a job satisfaction rate of 82% after 5+ years of employment experience. Recent graduates who are working in their first jobs are still satisfied with their employment situation 75% of the time. (Snap Research)
#17. 85% of Americans believe that creative jobs, such as wood carving, help to drive the economy forward. (AftrArt)
#18. 59% of people see positive growth in the art market, including wood carving, which means more income for each working artist. (AftrArt)
#19. Over $53 billion in payroll is generated each year because of the use of forestry products in the United States. From a manufacturing standpoint, woodworking opportunities are one of the largest employment opportunities which are currently available. (Statista)
#20. The United States produces over 41 billion cubic feet of lumber that is used for a variety of projects, including carving opportunities. (Statista)
#21. In the developing world, the wood carving industry contributes a significant income for households. Indonesia currently exports over $100 million worth of carvings each year. (Center for International Forestry Research)
#22. The wood carving industry in India provides $65 million worth of revenues to the local economy each year. In Saharanpur, there are 50,000 people employed as wood carvers. (Center for International Forestry Research)
#23. Over 60,000 people are employed as wood carvers in Kenya, producing enough income to support over 300,000 household dependents each year. (Center for International Forestry Research)
#24. Wood carving opportunities in South Africa provide up to 80% of the household cash available to rural families. (Center for International Forestry Research)
#25. In the densely populated regions of Mexico, hobbyist wood carvers can earn up to $2,500 per year because of their artistic efforts. (Center for International Forestry Research)
#26. The wood carving industry in Kenya adds more value to forestry products than it does when the items are used for fuel, timber, or support poles. (Center for International Forestry Research)
#27. When Damar is used in Indonesia for timber, it sells at a rate of $120 per cubic meter. When the wood is carved into spoons, the value increases to $300 per cubic meter. (Center for International Forestry Research)
#28. In South Africa, the value of pterocarpus angolensis is just $1 per kilogram until it is carved. Once someone places their artistic stamp on the wood, the value is $7 per kilogram. (Center for International Forestry Research)
#29. Mass-produced wooden utensils that are machine-carved can be purchased for under $10 for an entire set of spoons, forks, and spatulas. A single hand-carved spoon, however, may be priced at $10 per item. (Williams Sonoma)
#30. Even though just 5% of the world’s population resides in the United States, the country is responsible for consuming 28% of the industrial wood productions which are created each year. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#31. The United States holds 10% of the Earth’s total domestic timber industry, but 96% of American consumption for industrial wood products originates from a supply located within U.S. borders. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#32. In 2012, there were 766 million acres of forest land available in the United States, which represents one-third of the total land area available. Even though population levels have tripled since 1910, this figure has remained relatively consistent – even growing in some years. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#33. Of the total forest land which is available, just 10% of it is classified as reserved land. Reserved lands have increased three-fold since 1959, helping to support commercial timber lands which make products available to the wood carving industry. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Wood Carving Industry Trends and Analysis
The primary area of growth expected for wood carvers in the next 5-year period is in the furniture segment of the industry. In 2016, the U.S. furniture market grew by 4.5%, giving it a total value of $114 billion. Consumer spending grew by 2.9% within this segment, despite the fact that overall spending only grew by 2.5%.
There are changing trends in home ownership and unique wood products that could have multiple negative effects on the industry. In 2016, for example, one in three families rented their home. It’s the highest rate since 1965, and rising home prices, rising student debt, and delays in getting married or starting families have all contributed to fewer product opportunities.
People today are looking for affordable furniture options. Wood carving is a premium service that consumers today struggle to justify as an expense. If you have an extra $500, the average person will either buy groceries, purchase an entertainment option, or pay off debt rather than opt for something ornately carved.
That forces the wood carving industry into a difficult decision. Do they focus on precision craftsmanship and artisanal work? Or do they focus on basic carpentry skills to keep costs down and revenues flowing?
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