February 16, 2018

Bureau of Economic Analysis Releases Statistics on Outdoor Recreation Economy

On February 14, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its first government report specifically recognizing the contributions the outdoor recreation industry has made to the U.S. economy.

The BEA uses statistics from the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) to show how much the outdoor recreation industry directly impacts the overall growth of the economy. In 2016, outdoor recreational economy accounted for 2.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), totaling $373.3 billion. Three out of the past four years, the outdoor recreation economy has outgrown the country’s overall economy. In 2016, the outdoor recreation economy increased by 3.8 percent while the overall GDP only grew by 2.8 percent. In 2015 and 2013, there was a 1.8 percent and 1.3 percent difference in growth, respectively, favoring the outdoor recreation industry.

The outdoor recreation community provides more annual gross output than other economic influences such as coal, electronics, and agriculture. This shows the impact of outdoorsmen and women and their activities to the overall economy. Surpassed only by motorized vehicles, boating and fishing, along with hunting and shooting, represent the second and third largest gross output of recreational activities. Boating and fishing supplies produced an output of $38.2 billion in 2016, which is a 4 percent increase from the previous year, while hunting and shooting generated $15.4 billion.

Growth in the outdoor recreation sectors is particularly notable due to many of the products produced to support these activities are directly tied to the American System of Conservation Funding.  From the establishment of the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson excise taxes outdoorsmen and women have since generated billions of dollars for fish and wildlife conservation. Last year alone, over $1.4 billion was distributed to qualifying programs across the country.  

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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