February 2 2009, 10:00 AM
If you want some proof the economy is ailing at its core, take a look at the lumberyard business, where suppliers are consolidating and closing shops in what one expert says is the "steepest downturn" ever. The industry's primary customers, home builders, are buying less wood because fewer houses are being built, according to The Denver Post, which notes that 100,000 of the industry's workers have lost their jobs since 2006. In Colorado, at least one dozen lumberyards or building-supply centers were closed in the last two years. 84 Lumber has shut down stores in several states, including a plant in Colorado, according to theÂ Pittsburgh Business Times. Fifty-nine percent of lumberyards predict lower sales this year.If there's one bit of good news, lumber prices are falling: an 8-foot stud is $1.75, the lowest since 1990. Meanwhile, the drought and beetle infestation among trees in the mountains is also creating a new economy of rescue and salvage (if the funds can be found), according to theÂ Rocky Mountain News.