Analysis: Outdoor recreation was 2 percent of GDP in 2016

Analysis: Outdoor recreation was 2 percent of GDP in 2016
© Getty Images

Outdoor recreation accounted for 2 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) said Wednesday.

In the first release from the BEA’s “satellite account” for outdoor recreation as part of the GDP, the agency said the industry generated $373.7 billion in 2016 and grew 3.8 percent, compared with 2.8 percent for the economy as a whole.

“The historical lack of detailed federal data regarding outdoor recreational activities has handicapped both the private and public sectors,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHolding defiant Trump witnesses to account, Jan. 6 committee carries out Congress's constitutional role Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ House panel, Commerce Department reach agreement on census documents MORE, whose department includes the BEA, said in a statement.


“The public will no doubt be surprised at the economic importance of this industry as we release prototype statistics measuring the impact of activities like boating, fishing, RVing, hunting, camping, hiking, and more. This release is a milestone for business executives, small-business owners, entrepreneurs, and government officials, who will rely on these detailed data to plan, grow, and gain new insights into this dynamic part of the U.S. economy.”

The statistics came thanks to the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016, which instructed the BEA to start reporting on outdoor recreation’s contribution to the economy.

Among the outdoor recreation activities analyzed, motorized vehicles made the biggest economic contribution, at $59.4 billion, the BEA said.

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, which represents various industries involved in recreation, said the numbers show the importance of the industry.

“Today’s report affirms what those of us in the outdoor community already know — outdoor recreation has a far-reaching positive impact across the U.S. and our economy,” Thom Dammrich, the group’s chairman and president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said in a statement.

“As an industry, we are proud to generate millions of American jobs and be a driving economic force from coast to coast, and we are grateful that BEA and the Department of Commerce have decided to recognize that.”