A Close Call for Wood Products
Industry in Recent Budget Stalemate
A budget deal reached last week to avert a government shutdown won approval Thursday from both the House and Senate, sending it to President Obama for his signature. Had congress been unable to reach an agreement over the 2011 federal budget, the impasse could have had an adverse effect on the wood products industries in several areas.
The potential government shutdown would have occurred during a critical time – the spring home buying season. Homebuilders were already feeling the strain of a weak market with a decline in housing starts in February. Although the survey of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) members indicated a slight increase in future expectations, there was still a great deal of uncertainty expressed, which would likely have increased with a government shutdown.
The wood industry also relies on employees at the Department of Commerce to manage trade disputes over imported wood products. Around 30,000 of Commerce's 46,761 workers would have been furloughed, and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service and manages timber contracts, 80 percent of the USDA's 110,000 employees were deemed nonessential and would have also been furloughed during a shutdown.