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Report: Outdoor recreation added $1 trillion to U.S. economy in 2022

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) recently released economic data from the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account for the year 2022, showing the largest economic impact in its history and outdoor recreation’s powerful economic impact on the U.S. economy. These new figures reveal that outdoor recreation generates $1.1 trillion in economic output (2.2% of GDP), 4.98 million jobs and comprises 3.2% of U.S. employees.

Powersports and boating remain key drivers of the outdoor recreation industry. (Chart: BEA)

This is the sixth consecutive year that BEA has released national and state level data on this important sector. This release shows how the outdoor industry continues to grow and thrive, supporting jobs and local economies in communities across the country, bolstering the national economy, and providing myriad benefits to the increasing number of Americans who seek time outside. The BEA data demonstrates how vitally important outdoor recreation has become and its potential to continue to grow.

“If there’s one thing to take away from today’s BEA presentation it’s this: the state of the outdoor recreation economy is strong, and sustained investment in outdoor recreation and our shared public lands and waters pays dividends for our local and national economies and quality of life,” said Jessica Turner, president of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). “Our industry continues to provide benefits to communities across the country – big, small, urban, and rural alike. To ensure that this success is sustainable and that our public lands and waters will continue to be accessible to all Americans for generations to come, we will continue to work together with leaders on the passage of America’s Outdoor Recreation Act by the end of this year. We are thrilled to once again see the data reflect what we hear everyday, that outdoor recreation is not a nice to have — but a necessity for healthy people, places, and economies.”

“The strong data from BEA are in sync with our own sales numbers showing continued and immense consumer interest in outdoor recreation with powersports vehicles,” said Erik Pritchard, President and CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Council, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association. “In fact, our data show that dual-sport motorcycles, which can be used on- and off-road for recreation, have doubled in sales since 2016, and off-road motorcycle sales are on a significant growth trajectory. Having annual data from BEA will help legislators understand the significant economic impact that the outdoor recreation industry brings to our nation, and why investments to protect and grow access to public lands and waters is essential to the health of America and Americans. It also proves that big dividends come from federal funding for programs like the Recreational Trails Program, which benefits motorized and non-motorized recreational interests for people of all abilities.”

“As we begin the 2023-24 snowmobile season, we are pleased to report that the snow is falling, and cold weather is here. Advanced sales on snowmobiles and related clothing and accessories are strong,” said Ed Klim, president, International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association. “The snowmobile shows are being held across the United States and families are filling the shows with eager anticipation for a great season. Families are already making their winter travel plans on snowmobiles, which expands the economic impact in rural America and supports outdoor activities on our public lands in the National Forests and State Forests.”

“The beneficial economic impact to communities that support outdoor recreation and guided recreation is undeniable,” said Aaron Bannon, executive director of America Outdoors Association. “This latest BEA data demonstrates how significant this industry is and the critical role it plays to bolster the U.S. economy.”

“Recreational boating continues to be a major driver of economic activity, and the new 2022 BEA data capture Americans’ continued desire to be outdoors and on the water,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and current Board Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). “Our industry saw record sales in 2020 and 2021, and that momentum continued into 2022. However, as our industry faces headwinds, now more than ever it’s important that Americans’ access to recreational activities is protected. It’s clear that people want to get outside, and as an industry, we are working hard to ensure Americans continue to have access to the outdoor activities they love.”

“We have long appreciated the physical, social and emotional benefits of spending time outdoors. This latest BEA data confirms the compelling case for the outdoor recreation economy as a powerful driver of both GDP and jobs,” said Julie Sutton, senior director of government affairs and global impact, VF Corporation. “The data also shows that a deep love for the outdoors is shared across the country. As this industry builds connections to people across the US, VF and its brands are committed to supporting a thriving recreation economy for everyone.”

“It comes as no surprise that outdoor recreation and the outdoor economy continue to demonstrate outstanding growth, which also supports the historic trends in outdoor participation we have seen in recent years,” said Kent Ebersole, president, Outdoor Industry Association. “The outdoor recreation participant base grew for the eighth consecutive year to a record 168.1 million participants, and new participants are increasingly diverse and looking to businesses to lead on sustainability, equity, and conservation. This new data demonstrates the strength of the outdoor recreation industry and our collective power to drive sustainable economic growth while protecting – and growing access to – the benefits of the outdoors for everyone.”

“The BEA’s numbers support the rapid expansion we’ve seen firsthand in the off-road and overlanding industries. While motorized recreation is a lifestyle and passion for millions of Americans, the money that OHV and overlanding enthusiasts invest in their vehicles is a key economic driver of the $1.08 trillion annual outdoor recreation economy,” said Mike Spagnola, CEO, Specialty Equipment Market Association. “Motorized recreation is a major employer in gateway communities and throughout the county where specialty aftermarket businesses manufacture, install, and sell parts that upgrade everything from SUVs to trucks to OHVs with wheels and tires, suspension upgrades, lift kits, winches, lighting products, and more.”

America’s outdoor recreation community, represented by ORR, continues to support the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) – the project compiling and releasing this data. The goal is to provide annual data on the economic importance of national and regional outdoor recreation economies that can be tracked for years to come.

To learn more about ORR and outdoor recreation’s contributions to the economy, visit their website here.


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