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September 1997, Vol. 120, No. 9
Paper is an indispensable component in the production, packaging, and delivery of a wide variety of products used daily by most Americans. For many it begins with breakfast. Most of us would be lost without our newspaper, coffee filters, napkins, cereal boxes, and milk and juice cartons. In some cases, our entire breakfast is baked, sold, reheated, and served in its original paperboard box.
Americans consume more paper than do the citizens of most countries. Compared with the 1994 world average of 97 pounds, the U.S. per capita consumption of paper is more than 700 pounds, approximately 2 pounds per person per day. Per capita consumption of paper products in the United States has grown 43 percent since 1980.1
Steady increases in paper consumption have had divergent impacts on employment in manufacturing production, in wholesale trade distribution, and in recycling collection. Employment in paper manufacturing, which historically has been less volatile, has fluctuated less in recent years. Employment gains have been elusive, however, and 16,000 jobs have been lost, on net, since 1990.2 At the same time, employment in recycling collection and paper distribution reflects a steady and increasing rate of growth. Increases in these jobs in recent history have far outweighed employment declines in paper manufacturing.
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1 "1996 Statistics. Data through 1995." (American Forest and Paper Association, November 1996), p. 2.
2 Employment data are from the Current Employment Statistics survey and appear in various issues of Employment, Hours, and Earnings. Data are expressed in annual averages unless otherwise noted.
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