Northwest Hardwoods mill in Arlington closes
Low demand, lack of timber blamed for closure of sawmill, loss of 40 jobs
View Northwest Hardwoods in a larger map Northwest Hardwoods also runs mills in Centralia and Longview in Washington, as well as in Oregon, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Those sawmills have seen their hours reduced, but they are stable, Narramore said. The mill has seen a reduction in operations since 2007, when the mill employed about 100 people and required two shifts and overtime to meet demand, Narramore said. Since then, hours and the number of employees have dropped. One reason the Arlington sawmill struggled more than the company's other mills: Nearby landowners are not harvesting as many trees. Northwest Hardwoods had to look for sources of timber elsewhere, resulting in greater expense to transport logs. The other problem was low demand for timber to build homes, a trend that is affecting sawmills regionwide. "We had conflicts on both sides," Narramore said, referring to both supply and demand, "and we don't see it getting any better." Mills are counted as part of the wood-manufacturing industry, which today represents less than 1 percent of jobs in Snohomish County, said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, Snohomish County regional labor economist for the Employment Security Department. Few though they are, those forest-products jobs provide family wages, she said. "As long as the construction industry is weak, those jobs will be hard to recover," Vance-Sherman said. The jobs in the industry have been decreasing steadily in recent years. In 2007, the number of jobs in the county peaked with a monthly average of 2,258. By last year, the average was 1,200, according to the Employment Security Department. There is some faint hope for improvement. In its preliminary February report, the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council said housing construction, while still weak, has improved slightly in the past two months. Also, employment in construction could increase this year. Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; email@example.com.