Woodworking machine setters and operators
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Overview
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Woodworkers manufacture a variety of products such as cabinets and furniture, using wood, veneers, and laminates.
Titles for this career often contain these words
OperatorMachineWoodTenderLatheSanderMakerUpVeneerTurningSetPlanerBarrelBasketTurnerBoringHoopEndJointerRouterShaperBenderBorerBoxTableMolderDowelSetterMillingBeltAutomaticNailingNailerBarkerBuilderFrameSlatBottomStaplerCutterChuckingEngineerWorkerTrimmerLastLindermanManufacturingNailPowerTrussSandingSkoogSlicingCarverLogClipperProfileWeaverStaplingDriverBlankBucketChipChipperCleatCNCCoreFeederCorkFastenerFrazerExcelsiorHeadingHeelSpotterLumberPressTripperWoodworkingMillerMoldingNailheadPipeSetupTypeRoofThreaderSpeedSplicerSplittingSqueezerStaveTimberSizerTurretCarvingHandAdzingArtificialBalloonBandBanderCharrerAssemblerBraiderBendingBlindBoardFinisherBowlBriarBuckerChuckerBurnCabinetCheckeringAdjusterMixingBlankerCleaterComputerNumericalControlCopyComposerLayerGrinderCustomDadoDoorDoorsPrefitterFootKnotSawLapLockPlugRafterRailSparStockTipCoat
Education
Only 3% of woodworking machine setters and operators have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by woodworking machine setters and operators
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
Fewer woodworking machine setters and operators have bachelor's degrees than 95% of other careeers.
Employment
Workforce size
Woodworking machine setters and operators, with 80,500 workers, form a larger workforce than 60% of careers.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for woodworking machine setters and operators are expected to shrink by 1%, and should have about 11,100 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Woodworking machine setters and operators are more likely to be automated than 91% of other careers.
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Salaries
The median (middle) salary for 86% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for woodworking machine setters and operators. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most woodworking machine setters and operators.
This job's median $30KAll jobs' median $39K$29K$38K20142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 21% of woodworking machine setters and operators -- that's a smaller percentage than 63% of other jobs.
Gender of woodworking machine setters and operators
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For woodworking machine setters and operators, the median men's salary was 27% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 13% of woodworking machine setters and operators are minority, and 17% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of woodworking machine setters and operators
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (17%)
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Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Woodworking Machine Setters and Operators per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 22% of woodworking machine setters and operators, and 54% have company-sponsored health insurance (10% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for woodworking machine setters and operators
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
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Injury and Illness
About 74 woodworking machine setters and operators become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, making this job more dangerous than 56% of other careers. The most common specific illnesses or injuries are detailed following.
All cuts, lacerations, punctures
Fractures
Sprains, strains, tears
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of woodworking machine setters and operators who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Contaminants (100%)
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment (86%)
  • Time Pressure (70%)
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings (62%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (45%)
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions (39%)
  • Consequence of Error (36%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do woodworking machine setters and operators earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for woodworking machine setters and operators, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for woodworking machine setters and operators compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for woodworking machine setters and operators (BLS Salary Data)
$30K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$30K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all woodworking machine setters and operators, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for woodworking machine setters and operators compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for woodworking machine setters and operators (ACS Salary Data)
$27K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$27K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where woodworking machine setters and operators work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Woodworking machine setters and operators (ACS)
Private for-profit (96.2%)
Private not-for-profit (0.9%)
Local government (0.0%)
State government (0.0%)
Federal government (0.0%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.6%)
Self-employed not incorporated (2.1%)
Working without pay (0.1%)
Distribution: Salaries of woodworking machine setters and operators by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$27K$27K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000Private for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of woodworking machine setters and operators by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$30K$30K$0$10,000$20,000$30,000$40,000$50,000PrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for woodworking machine setters and operators

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? This first chart suggests how much this job rewards experience with increased salaries.

Now let's dive a little deeper. Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$33K$32K$20K$27K$33K$28K$28K$26K$0$20K$40K$60KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
05001K2K2K3KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Woodworking machine setters and operators and gender

With 21% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 63% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
21%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Woodworking machine setters and operators
Men (79%)
Women (21%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 21%, and the difference for woodworking machine setters and operators tops that, with the median salary for men 27% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$22K$28K$0$20K$40K$60KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Woodworking machine setters and operators have one of the higher percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job even higher than that for 74% of other jobs.

27%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of woodworking machine setters and operators

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a smaller percentage of minority woodworking machine setters and operators than for 79% of other careers. Although this career does not include a large percentage of minorities, it does hire more foreign-born people that most other careers.

Race/origin of woodworking machine setters and operators
White (81% )
Black (7% )
Other (6% )
Asian (2% )
American Indian (2% )
Multiracial (1% )
Hispanic (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
13%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
17%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for woodworking machine setters and operators by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$24K$25K$27K$0$20K$40K$60KOtherBlackWhite
Distribution: Salaries for woodworking machine setters and operators by nativity
$24K$27K$0$20K$40K$60KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Part-time/Full-time
Woodworking machine setters and operators and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 8% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 61% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
8%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

The salary distributions for full-time and part-time woodworking machine setters and operators is shown following.

$9K$27K$0$20K$40K$60KPart-time workersFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by woodworking machine setters and operators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), woodworking machine setters and operators typically hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as woodworking machine setters and operators as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for woodworking machine setters and operators.

Education attained by woodworking machine setters and operators
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for woodworking machine setters and operators

Because of the growing sophistication of machinery, many employers are seeking applicants who have a high school diploma or equivalent. People seeking woodworking jobs can enhance their employment prospects by getting training in computer applications and math.

Some woodworkers obtain their skills by taking courses at technical schools or community colleges. Others attend universities that offer training in wood technology, furniture manufacturing, wood engineering, and production management. These programs prepare students for jobs in production, supervision, engineering, and management, and are becoming increasingly important as woodworking technology advances.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for woodworking machine setters and operators

Although not required, becoming certified can demonstrate competence and professionalism. It also may help a candidate advance in the profession. The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America offers a national certificate program, with five progressive credentials, which adds a level of credibility to the work of woodworkers.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for woodworking machine setters and operators? Below we see the distribution of woodworking machine setters and operators salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as woodworking machine setters and operators, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$24K$27K$26K$79K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KNone (26%)High School (51%)Some College (16%)Master's Degree (0%)
Certificate/Associate's degree pathways
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for woodworking machine setters and operators

What jobs will most woodworking machine setters and operators hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of woodworking machine setters and operators reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Woodworking machine setters and operatorsProduction workersHand laborers and freight, stock, and material moversCabinetmakers and bench carpentersComputer control programmers and operatorsAgricultural ManagersAircraft pilots and flight engineersIndustrial production managersCarpentersConstruction laborersChief executives and legislatorsMetal and plastic machine tool cutting setters and operatorsFirst-line supervisors of non-retail sales workersDesignersMotor vehicle operatorsEducation administratorsStructural metal fabricators and fittersCutting workersModel makers, patternmakers, and other woodworkersCrushing, grinding, polishing, mixing, and blending workers
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for woodworking machine setters and operators

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 5 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as woodworking machine setters and operators as well as 1% of respondents after working as woodworking machine setters and operators. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for woodworking machine setters and operators: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as woodworking machine setters and operators? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of woodworking machine setters and operators surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Read about woodworking machine setters and operators
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Woodworkers typically do the following:

  • Understand detailed architectural drawings, schematics, shop drawings, and blueprints
  • Prepare and set up machines and tooling for woodwork manufacturing
  • Lift wood pieces onto machines, either by hand or with hoists
  • Operate woodworking machines, including saws and milling and sanding machines
  • Listen for unusual sounds or detect excessive vibration in machinery
  • Ensure that products meet industry standards and project specifications, making adjustments as necessary
  • Select and adjust the proper cutting, milling, boring, and sanding tools for completing a job
  • Use hand tools to trim pieces or assemble products

Despite the abundance of plastics, metals, and other materials, wood products continue to be an important part of our daily lives. Woodworkers make wood products from lumber and synthetic wood materials. Many of these products, including most furniture, kitchen cabinets, and musical instruments, are mass produced. Other products are custom made from architectural designs and drawings.

Although the term “woodworker” may evoke the image of a craftsman who uses hand tools to build ornate furniture, the modern woodworking trade is highly technical and relies on advanced equipment and highly skilled operators. Workers use automated machinery, such as computerized numerical control (CNC) machines, to do much of the work with great accuracy.

Even specialized artisans generally use CNC machines and a variety of power tools in their work. Much of the work is done in a high-production assembly line facility, but there is also some work that is customized and does not lend itself to being performed on an assembly line.

Woodworkers set up, operate, and tend all types of woodworking machines, such as saws, milling machines, drill presses, lathes, shapers, routers, sanders, planers, and wood-fastening machines. Operators set up the equipment, cut and shape wooden parts, and verify dimensions, using a template, caliper, and rule. After the parts are machined, woodworkers add fasteners and adhesives and connect the parts to form an assembled unit. They also install hardware, such as pulls and drawer slides, and fit specialty products for glass, metal trims, electrical components, and stone. Finally, workers sand, stain, and, if necessary, coat the wood product with a sealer or topcoats, such as a lacquer or varnish.

Many of these tasks are handled by different workers with specialized training.

The following are examples of types of woodworkers:

Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters cut, shape, assemble, and make parts for wood products. They often design and create sets of cabinets that are customized for particular spaces. In some cases, their duties begin with designing a set of cabinets to specifications and end with installing the cabinets.

Furniture finishers shape, finish, and refinish damaged and worn furniture. They may work with antiques and must judge how to preserve and repair them. They also do the staining, sealing, and top coating at the end of the process of making wooden products.

Wood sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders specialize in operating specific pieces of woodworking machinery. They may operate CNC machines.

Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing, operate woodworking machines, such as drill presses, lathes, routers, sanders, and planers. They may operate CNC machines.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of woodworking machine setters and operators? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Detail oriented
Woodworkers must pay attention to details in order to meet specifications and to keep themselves safe.
Dexterity
Woodworkers must make precise cuts with a variety of hand tools and power tools, so they need a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.
Math skills
Knowledge of basic math and computer skills are important, particularly for those who work in manufacturing, in which technology continues to advance. Woodworkers need to understand basic geometry in order to visualize how a three-dimensional wooden object, such as a cabinet or piece of furniture, will fit together.
Mechanical skills
The use of hand tools, such as screwdrivers and wrenches, is required to set up, adjust, and calibrate machines. Modern technology systems require woodworkers to be able to use computers and other programmable devices.
Physical stamina
The ability to endure long periods of standing and repetitive movements is crucial for woodworkers, who often stand all day performing many of the same functions.
Physical strength
Woodworkers must be strong enough to lift bulky and heavy pieces of wood.
Technical skills
Woodworkers must understand and interpret design drawings and technical manuals for a range of products and machines.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for woodworking machine setters and operators
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 86% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for woodworking machine setters and operators. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $30KAll jobs' median $39K$30K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for woodworking machine setters and operators are anticipated to shrink by 1%. over the next decade; 78% of jobs are projected to grow more.

The projected employment for woodworking machine setters and operators is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

2000201020202030020,00040,00060,00080,000100,000120,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most woodworking machine setters and operators? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as woodworking machine setters and operators. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Woodworking Machine Setters and Operators per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.51.01.52.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where woodworking machine setters and operators earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for woodworking machine setters and operators compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for woodworking machine setters and operators.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Location-adjusted median salary for Woodworking Machine Setters and Operators (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which woodworking machine setters and operators earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
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$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Woodworking machine setters and operators (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
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