The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its 2020 report on outdoor recreation’s positive economic impact, which confirmed that boating and fishing remain the number one contributor to this sector of the U.S. economy. The new numbers show outdoor recreation generates $689 billion in economic output, supports 4.3 million American jobs, and comprises 3 percent of all U.S. employees. The report, a snapshot in time of a challenging and uncertain year, includes national and state level data.
In 2020, conventional outdoor recreation activities (such as bicycling, boating, hiking, hunting, etc.) accounted for 37.4 percent of U.S. outdoor recreation value added, up from 30.6 percent in 2019. This increase was due to higher spending on boating and fishing, as well as RVing. Boating and fishing was the largest conventional activity for the nation–up nearly 30 percent compared to 2019–as well as the largest conventional activity in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
Key highlights from 2020 data on the outdoor recreation economy:
- Outdoor recreation generated $689 billion in gross output during a year of shutdowns and closures, and 4.3 million jobs in communities across the country.
- Industry segments like boating and fishing, biking, camping and RVing, hunting and shooting sports, and powersports experienced record sales and unprecedented growth.
- Declines in travel and tourism had an outsized impact on outdoor recreation’s overall economic activity and related outdoor segments may continue to struggle.
- Outdoor participation soared, especially close-to-home recreation, highlighting the importance of better access to the outdoors for all communities.
- Americans’ prioritization of outdoor recreation continues into 2021 with strong numbers in participation and sales data.
This is the fourth consecutive year that BEA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has released government data on the outdoor recreation sector. To view the report, click here.