North America structural panel production increased 5% and consumption was up 5.8% in 2016, according to APA—The Engineered Wood Assn.

Structural panel production was 32.595 billion SF, continuing several consecutive years of increase. Production was 27.785 billion SF in 2012.

U.S. companies produced 22.731 billion SF, and Canadian producers recorded 9.864 billion SF, both amounts up slightly over 2015.

U.S. OSB production was 13.922 billion SF and Canada was 7.913 billion SF. U.S. plywood output was 8.809 billion SF, while was Canada was at 1.951 billion SF.

U.S. plywood imports from offshore totaled 1.077 billion SF, up 54.5% from 2015.

North American Glulam production was up 2.7%, while I-joist and LVL output were up 6.3% and 6.8%.

Glulam production for the year was 280MMBF. I-joist production was 730.1 million linear feet. LVL production was 71 million cubic feet.

APA also reported that housing starts totaled 1.166 million units in 2016, up 4.9% from 2015. Single-family starts were up 9.3% to 780,900, while multi-family starts were down 3% to 385,500.

APA forecasts total starts to increase to 1.285 million in 2017 (850,000 single family, 435,000 multi-family, and to 1.360 million in 2018 (890,000 single family, 470,000 multi-family).

APA notes that Fannie Mae offers the most optimistic forecast, expecting 1.308 million starts in 2017 and 1.461 million in 2018.

APA also reported that U.S. construction employment rose by 102,000 in 2016, considerably down from 296,000 in 2015, partially reflecting an increased scarcity of skilled construction labor.

Overall U.S. unemployment was 4.9%, down from 5.3% in 2015, marking the lowest annual average since 2007.

Canadian housing starts, including gains in both single family and multi-family, were 197,900, virtually unchanged from 2015. Single family detached starts were 74,090, up 8.8%.