How many logging equipment operators does Maine need? An average of 44 each year from 2010 to 2020, according to a labor analysis provided at MFPC’s request by the Maine Department of Labor Center for Workforce Research and Information. Jobs also will be opening up in for production, machine installation and repair, and trucking.
In late February, MFPC requested a labor analysis of the forest products industry from the Maine Department of Labor and our staff is still studying the results. The Occupational Outlook 2010-2020 chart is based on foreseeable conditions, trends and statistical models, according to the DOL analysis. Economic events, such as mill closures, may significantly change outlook in forest products industries from levels projected here.
One important trend is clear: Replacing retiring workers will be a key issue for the rest of the decade. The analysis showed that forest products industries have an older workforce than the private sector as a whole, with 62 percent of workers ages 45 and older, compared to 47 percent of workers at all private firms.
None of that will come as a surprise to those who have been following the recent research done in Maine and New England, including last fall’s Logger Training Survey, which found that 73 percent of contractors surveyed stated that there is a need for an equipment operator‐training program in Maine. Those following news reports know about Canada’s campaign to recruit new forestry workers. Experts predict Canada’s forestry companies will need to hire at least 60,000 people over the next seven years, with 40,000 of those replacing retiring baby boomers and 20,000 new positions created, as a stronger U.S. housing market brings more work to the sawmills.
As noted in earlier newsletters, there is growing concern in Maine, and throughout North America, that there will be insufficient qualified labor to meet the future harvesting and transportation needs of our industry, but this analysis is the first indication of home many new workers may be needed or must be trained.