Western Mills Increased Production for First Half of 2000 on Heels of Record Demand

“Coming hot off of three years of record lumber demand, western sawmills increased production in the first half of 2000, according to the Western Wood Products Association.Preliminary statistics compiled by the WWPA show western lumber production for the first half of 2000 rose by 5.1 percent to 9.2 billion board feet. Shipments grew by 2.7 percent and orders remained unchanged from 1999 figures.Sawmills on the Washington and Oregon coasts recorded the largest year-to-date gains in the western region, increasing production by 7.8 percent. Coast shipments rose 7.1 percent, while orders climbed 3.9 percent.Inland mills, throughout eastern Washington and Oregon and the rest of the west, saw a 2 percent production increase. Shipments from inland mills matched 1999 totals while orders were down 3.8 percent.Production gains came as demand for lumber began to soften. Housing starts, the largest lumber using market, dropped nearly one percent during the first half of the year.Construction of single-family units, averaging 14,000 board feet of lumber each, slid 3.2 percent. The WWPA is anticipating housing starts for 2000 to total 1.56 million units, down from 1.66 million in 1999.Demand for lumber in the U.S. reached a record 54.3 billion board feet in 1999. For the year 2000, the WWPA is forecasting a 3.3 percent decline in demand to 52.5 billion board feet. The predicted decline is due to fewer housing starts and slower economic growth. “