Outdoor recreation industry contributes $427b to US economy

The outdoor recreation industry — which includes RVs, boats and motorcycles — contributed $427.2 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017, growing 3.7% year over year, according to data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

In its second annual study on outdoor recreation, the BEA found that value of the outdoor recreation industry grew 3.9% in 2017, faster than the 2.4% growth of the overall U.S. economy. Real gross output, compensation and employment all grew more quickly in outdoor recreation than for the economy as a whole.

Outdoor recreation accounted for 2.2% of U.S. gross domestic product and supported 5.2 million jobs, according to the report. The economic contribution from outdoor recreation was more substantial than several other industries, including mining, utilities, farming and ranching, and chemical products manufacturing.

Of the six categories that comprise outdoor recreation, four were in powersports: boating/fishing, RVing, motorcycles/ATVs and snow activities. In outdoor recreation, boating/fishing was the largest segment with $20.9 billion of real gross output. RV activities were second at $16.9 billion, while motorcycles/ATVs followed with $9.1 billion. Snow activities accounted for $5.6 billion of real gross output.

Additionally, the BEA debuted statistics measuring the specific value of outdoor recreation for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The states with the largest percentage of outdoor recreation value were Hawaii (5.4%), Montana (5.1%), Maine (4.8%), Vermont (4.5%) and Wyoming (4.4%). The District of Columbia had the smallest percentage of outdoor recreation value, at 1.2%.

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