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Report Reveals New Data on U.S. Outdoor Recreation Economy

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its annual report measuring the outdoor recreation economy for the nation, the individual states, and the District of Columbia in 2021. According to the report, the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 1.9% ($454 billion) of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) for the nation in 2021, and led to the creation of 4.5 million jobs, or 3% of all workers in the U.S. Total economic output generated by the outdoor recreation industry in 2021 was $862 billion, up from $689 billion in 2020. Across the 50 states, the outdoor recreation economy contributed between 4.8% and 1.3% of state GDPs in 2021.

Inflation-adjusted (“real”) GDP for the outdoor recreation economy increased 18.9% in 2021, compared with a 5.9% increase for the overall U.S. economy, reflecting a rebound in outdoor recreation after the decrease of 21.6% in 2020. Real gross output for the outdoor recreation economy increased 21.7%, while outdoor recreation compensation increased 16.2% and employment increased 13.1%.

Outdoor Recreation By Activity

Outdoor recreation activities fell into three general categories: “conventional” activities (eg., bicycling, skiing, boating, hiking, fishing, RV-ing, snowmobiling, hunting), “other” activities (e.g., gardening and outdoor concerts), and “supporting” activities (e.g., construction, travel and tourism, local trips, and government expenditures).

In 2021, conventional outdoor recreation accounted for 35.1% of U.S. outdoor recreation value added, down from 40.1% in 2020. Other outdoor recreation accounted for 17.6% of value added in 2021, compared to 17.5% in 2020. Supporting activities accounted for the remaining 47.3% of value added in 2021, compared to 42.4% in 2020. Supporting activities, particularly travel and tourism-related activities, rebounded in 2021 as COVID–19 restrictions eased and consumers traveled more and increased spending on transportation, hotels, and restaurants.

Other Noteworthy Findings

Boating/fishing was the largest conventional activity for the nation at $27.3 billion in current-dollar value added and was the largest conventional activity in 27 states and the District of Columbia. The largest contributors were Florida ($4.0 billion), California ($2.3 billion), and Texas ($2.0 billion).

RV-ing was the second-largest conventional activity for the nation at $25.1 billion in current-dollar value added and was the largest conventional activity in 15 states. The largest contributors were Indiana ($5.4 billion), Texas ($2.2 billion), and California ($2.0 billion).

Hunting/shooting/trapping was the third-largest conventional activity for the nation at $10.8 billion in current-dollar value added and was the largest conventional activity in two states. The largest contributors were Texas ($1.2 billion), California ($763.8 million), and Georgia ($555.2 million).

Snow activities for the nation was $5.2 billion in current-dollar value added and was the largest conventional activity in four states. The largest contributors were Colorado ($1.3 billion), Utah ($519.4 million), and California ($505.7 million).

Read the full report press release

 

 

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