On November 10, 2020, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released updated economic data on outdoor recreation’s powerful and positive economic impact on the U.S. economy. The new data shows outdoor recreation creates $788 billion in economic output, comprises 2.1 percent of U.S. GDP, and supports 5.2 million jobs. The report includes national and state level data for both 2018 and 2019. 

This is the third consecutive year that BEA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has released data on the outdoor recreation economy and the third year the industry has shown growth across the board. The new release shows how this important sector was growing rapidly prior to the pandemic and is indicative of where it can lead again as an economic growth engine and job creator. 

Key Highlights from BEA’s new report on the outdoor recreation economy:

  • Outdoor recreation makes up 2.1 percent of U.S. GDP, generating $788 billion in gross output and supporting 5.2 million jobs. 
  • In terms of economic output, boating/fishing, RVing, hunting/shooting/trapping, motorcycling/ATVing, and equestrian sports are the five largest conventional outdoor recreation activities.
  • The top states where outdoor recreation accounts for the largest percentage of each state’s total GDP are Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Vermont, and Wyoming.
  • The top five states where outdoor recreation accounts for the largest percentage of total U.S. GDP are California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. 

“BEA’s new numbers show what we have always known in the RV industry, that outdoor recreation is a driving force in our economy,” said Jay Landers, RV Industry Association Vice President of Government Affairs. “It is because of the work of those in the RV industry who advocated for the passage of the REC Act back in 2016 that we now have these government numbers to point to as we continue to advocate for outdoor recreation policy priorities such as the recently enacted Great American Outdoors Act.”

The RV industry, along with partners in the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, were critical in securing funding for the annual Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) report last year.

“This year’s data on the impact of the outdoor recreation economy is reaffirming for the entire outdoor recreation industry, particularly after the last few months we have all had,” said Jessica Turner, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable Executive Director. “The fact the industry generates $788 billion in output, comprises 2.1 percent of U.S. GDP, and supports 5.2 million jobs is huge for the U.S economy, rural and gateway communities, and Americans looking for jobs or to start a career in a growing and powerful industry. This, combined with the recent passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, bolsters the benefits of the outdoor recreation economy and our efforts to ensure all Americans have access to our public lands and waters.”