Employment in Idaho's forest products industry hovers at around 20,000 people. Employment in this sector is impacted both by the drastic decline in the volume of timber being sold on national forests, and by the automation of mills -- the replacement of large, labor-intensive operations with smaller, more automated mills. Labor income-per-worker in Idaho's forest product industry is relatively high, averaging $38,000 (in 1990 dollars). By comparison, the average worker in the mining and railroading sector earned $43,000 annually, while workers in the non-resident-travel industry earned an average of $12,700 per year. Using percentage of total labor income as a measure of relative dependence on the forest products industry, Idaho ranks thirdamong all 50 states. Between 1987 and 1991, roughly six percent of Idaho's total labor income was earned in the forest products sector. (The highest percentage - nine percent - was earned in Maine.)
Northern Idaho Counties, 1990Idaho's ten northern counties are the most dependent upon the forest products industry. In 1990, roughly 60 percent of all forest labor income earned in Idaho was earned in the northern counties. Southern Idaho's economy is dominated by the agriculture, food processing, manufacturing, finance, and service sectors. However, the forest products industry remains a major contributor to the economies of the six counties just south of the Salmon River (Adams, Boise, Gem, Payette, Valley, and Washington counties).