Lumber expected to reach historic low before 2010 recovery

By Western Wood Products Association,

PORTLAND, Ore. – Demand for lumber in the U.S. in 2009 will slide to the lowest level in modern history, then move toward a slow recovery starting next year, according to a new forecast issued by Western Wood Products Association.  The poor economy and a housing market that has plummeted to historic lows are the chief reasons for the remarkable decline in lumber demand. WWPA predicts     U.S. lumber demand will slide this year to just 28.9 billion board feet, down almost 30 percent from 2008 totals.

Since reaching an all-time high of 64.3 billion board feet in 2005, U.S. demand for lumber has dropped by more than 55 percent – the steepest decline in the history of the industry.

Home construction traditionally accounts for more than 45 percent of the lumber used each year. The Association estimates just 432,000 houses will be started in 2009, down more than half from 2008 totals and one-fifth of what was built in 2005.

The volume of lumber used in new home construction is expected total 5.3 billion board feet this year, compared to the 27.6 billion board feet consumed in home building in 2005.

In 2010, housing is forecast to improve modestly to 553,000 starts, bringing lumber consumption to nearly 30 billion board feet. WWPA does not expect housing starts to exceed
1 million units until 2012.

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