Inside Report (4)

Spring signs that the hibernating lumber industry had reawakened were premature.

As March was going out like a lion, 25 sawmills in nine Western states suddenly roared to life and 10,500 laid-off workers were called back.

Was this a harbinger of better things in housing construction? ''No,'' says a wood industry spokesman. It was only ''a two-week bubble'' created when suppliers decided to stock up for some spring and summer orders. With little lumber on hand, mill owners had to crank up to fill the orders.

The jobless rate for sawmill workers in 12 Western states dropped from about 25 percent (of 102,000 employees) March 27 to about 15 percent on April 3. When the report for the week ending April 10 comes out, the total is expected to be back near 25 percent.m

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