For the first time in history, the size of the rapidly growing outdoor recreation industry has eclipsed the $1 trillion mark, according to recently released data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). This new data indicates that the $1.1 trillion outdoor recreation industry accounts for over 2 percent of the entire U.S. GDP and provides over 3 percent of the nation’s jobs. The analysis also shines a light on how significantly outdoor recreation is outpacing other sectors of the U.S. economy, more than tripling the economy as a whole in some metrics.
According to the BEA, employment in the outdoor recreation economy increased in all 50 U.S. states, with Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont and Florida leading the pack. Hawaii, Vermont, and Alaska, joined by Montana and Wyoming, represent the states where outdoor recreation comprises the largest portion of their state’s GDP.
The report is being heralded as further proof that protection of U.S. public lands, wilderness, waterways, and healthy and intact habitats is a wise investment.
“The state of the outdoor recreation economy is strong to the tune of over a trillion dollars in economic output. It shows that sustained investment in outdoor recreation and protection of our shared public lands and waters pays huge dividends for our local and national economies and quality of life,” said Jessica Turner, president of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). “Our industry continues to provide benefits to communities across the country – big, small, urban, and rural alike. To ensure that this success is sustainable and that our public lands and waters will continue to be accessible to all Americans for generations to come, we will continue to work together with leaders on the passage of America’s Outdoor Recreation Act by the end of this year. We are thrilled to once again see the data reflect what we hear everyday, that outdoor recreation is not a nice to have -- but a necessity for healthy people, places, and economies."
RVing represents the largest sector of the outdoor recreation economy, at a total of $35.4 billion. Nearly as large in second place is the boating/fishing sector, at $32.4 billion.
“The BEA report puts data behind what we’ve always known, that in addition to improving Americans’ quality of life, outdoor recreation is a major economic driver. To continue growing our sector and the millions of jobs it produces, policymakers must support sound public land and natural resource policy that facilitates access to the great outdoors”, said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “More than 54 million Americans went fishing last year, which creates hundreds of thousands of jobs and raises billions of dollars because we have so much access and fishable waters across our great nation.”
In a release highlighting the data in the report, the ORR also highlighted recent growth in the snowsports industry, noting that snowsports grew 33 percent from 2021-2022 – 18 percent for skiing, 17 percent for snowboarding, and 56 percent for other snow activities, including snowmobiling.
The full report from the BEA can be viewed here, along with interactive tables where readers can explore the new data.