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The Outdoor Recreation Economy Nears One Trillion in Economic Output

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account report, showcasing the 2021 economic impact data for the outdoor recreation industry. According to the report, the outdoor recreation industry generated $862 billion in economic output in 2021. This led to the creation of 4.5 million jobs which equals 3 percent of all workers in the United States. The total economic output value is 1.9 percent of the nation’s total GDP. Across the 50 states, the outdoor recreation economy contributed between 4.8 percent and 1.3 percent of their individual GDPs. Hawaii saw the largest impact on the state GDPs while New York and Connecticut were the lowest.

The American Sportfishing Association recognizes the important value outdoor recreation has across the United States and we are proud to be part of an industry that plays a critical role in growing our nation’s economy. The outdoor recreation industry’s contribution to the U.S. economy is greater than the amount contributed by other notable industries such as oil and gas extraction, mining, agriculture, and computers and electronics.

Contributions to the U.S. GDP per industry. Image courtesy of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.

In 2020, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, the outdoor recreation economy contributed just $689 billion in gross domestic output, equaling 1.8 percent of the U.S. GDP. Prior to the pandemic, the outdoor recreation economy typically equaled 2.2 percent of the GDP. We are getting close to closing the gap.

The outdoor recreation industry is also ahead of the country in overall economic growth, as we saw an increase of 18.9 percent from 2020 to 2021 compared to just a 5.9 percent increase in the overall U.S. economy. Our industry also saw a 13.1 percent increase in job growth from 2020 to 2021, equal to 3.1 percent of the country’s total job growth.
Among the various segments of outdoor recreation, boating and fishing contributed $50.4 billion in economic output. This makes fishing and boating the largest economic driver among conventional outdoor recreation activities.

Fishing and boating leading conventional outdoor recreation activities among current dollar value added.

The economic impact of our industry is also an indicator of how important it is for Americans to have access to clean waters and abundant fisheries. ASA will continue our work with Congress, federal agencies and at the state level to ensure that outdoor participation continues to grow.
The growth our industry saw in 2021 indicates that outdoor recreation remains a top priority for all Americans in terms of time and dollars spent. Outdoor recreation will continue to have a huge impact on our nation even in the face of overall economic uncertainty. ASA is committed to promoting participation in outdoor recreation and getting more Americans outside and on the water.

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