Figure 1

The Kentucky forest industry was designated as essential during the COVID-19 pandemic permitting continued, albeit modified, operations. This report estimates the economic contribution of the overall forest sector in both rural and urban areas. The overall Kentucky forest sector contribution has remained fairly stable over the last few years with the sector providing an estimated $9.55 billion in direct contributions in 2020 and a total economic contribution of $13.97 billion. The Kentucky forest sector also directly employed nearly 27,000 people in 2020 with indirect and induced employment resulting in a total of more than 53,000 Kentucky jobs. The direct labor wages for the Kentucky forest sector were $1.8 billion in 2020 with total labor wages reaching $3.1 billion.

Figure 2


2020 estimates vary by sub-sector.  Table 1
Logging and primary wood manufacturing were down 1.435% and pulp and paper were down 1.68% in comparison to 2019. Secondary wood manufacturing was up 2.4% while paper converters and wood residue remained flat in 2020. Logging and primary wood manufacturing were negatively impacted by temporary mill closures in response to slow grade lumber markets and decreased export markets, as well as a slowing Chinese economy that resulted in an overall drag on demand and harvesting.