A recently completed Mississippi State report shows just how much of the state's economy rests in the shade of its vast forestlands.
While it's well known that forestry is important to the state, most residents may not appreciate that "the more than 18 million acres of forestland in Mississippi means trees cover two-thirds of the state's land area," said Ian Munn of the university's Forest and Wildlife Research Center.
The associate professor of forestry said a center-sponsored study sought "to measure the total economic impact of the $1.3 billion worth of timber products harvested and delivered to mills and manufacturing plants in Mississippi each year."
Completed by Munn and graduate student James E. Henderson, the project examined the forest industry's four main sectors: logging, solid wood products, pulp and paper, and wood furniture manufacturing. Employing a computerized database and modeling software, they looked at employment, wages paid, total value of production, and value added through the manufacturing process.
Using 1998 data-the most recent available-they found the forestry/forest products industry:
--Accounts for about 13 percent of Mississippi's total economic activity, contributing $14.8 billion in total industrial output and generating $6.5 billion in value-added income, and
--Employs more than 151,000 Mississippians.
"These employees hold 10 percent of all jobs in the state and receive $4.2 billion in wages," Munn said. "Also, the average income for forestry and forest products jobs is $29,065, or $5,820 more than the average wage for Mississippians, in general."