The Outdoor Recreation Economy

The U.S. outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2 percent ($427.2 billion) of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017 according to statistics released September 20, 2019, by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account also shows that inflation-adjusted (real) GDP for the outdoor recreation economy grew by 3.9 percent in 2017, faster than the 2.4 percent growth of the overall U.S. economy. Real gross output, compensation, and employment all grew faster in outdoor recreation than for the economy as a whole.

The following map, released by BEA, shows the contribution to GDP in each state. Note that states with higher percentage contribution to GDP also have lower total GDP. These states tend to be rural with lower populations and smaller industrial capacity. This, in turn, makes outdoor recreation a more critical part of their economies.

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