Wood-based panels, produced from primary processing of raw timber, are a major input for furniture. Both industries form an important production chain in Europe's forest-based sector and face on-going structural changes induced mainly by technological innovation, expansion and relocation in the context of a growing global competition. In an exploratory shift-share analysis, the study investigates these changes and their effects on employment in the two interconnected industries across the European countries from 1999 to 2007. The results reveal opposite growth trends in Western and Eastern countries, as well as dynamic restructuring processes especially in the Eastern industries. Western countries lose employees on a large scale for the sake of new emerging jobs in Eastern countries, however on a smaller scale. The major shifts are induced by widespread outsourcing, relocation and downsizing trends and it can be shown that the regional availability of skilled, low cost labour and raw wood material represent the key locational factors in the wood-based panel and furniture industries. The study highlights regions where wood-based panel and furniture industries in neighbouring Western and Eastern countries clearly interact. The findings of cross-regional employment shifts can help to inform regional policies for sustainable development of Europe's forest-based sector from a macroeconomic and social perspective.
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Vol. 15 • No. 1