U.S. woodworkers who depend on a strong home construction market have good reason to be envious of their Canadian brethren.
Canada's seasonally adjusted average of housing starts surged to 244,900 units in April, a whopping increase of 14%. While this level of activity is no doubt impressive, the 57% jump recorded in Quebec is nothing short of titanic.
For comparison's sake, the U.S. housiing industry posted a modest gain of 2.6% in April. This puts it on track to build 717,000 units in 2012. As I pointed out in my blog last week, that's significantly off the 1.5 million units we're accustomed to seeing but that would nonetheless be a significant improvement over the 606,000 units erected last year.
To further dramatize the Canadian housing market's relative strength to the U.S., consider that while we have nearly 10 times more people, we are producing fewer than one-third more homes. In fairness, though, it also should be noted that whereas 68.6% of U.S. housing starts are single-family homes, only 27.6% of our northern neighbor's total represents single-detached homes. I point this out because I think it's safe to assume that single family homes generally have larger footprints, providing providing more sales opportunities for wood flooring, millwork, furniture, cabinetry, closets, etc.
Even with that caveat, I think most would agree that the Canadian housing market currently remains a much more condusive business environment for woodworking professionals.
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Rich Christianson is Associate Publisher and Editor at Large of Woodworking Network. During his 25+ years covering the wood products industry, Rich has toured hundreds of manufacturing plants throughout North America, Europe and Asia. His reporting has covered everything from the state of the industry and impact of wood imports to technology and environmental issues. In his current capacity he is responsible for editing the daily Woodworking Network Update newsletter and coordinating events including the annual Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo and Canada’s biennial Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo. He can be contacted at email@example.comRead more of Rich Christianson's blogs.