US outdoor recreation brings in almost $1trillion

The outdoor recreation industry is worth nearly $1 trillion to the US economy, with fishing and boating being the biggest contributors to this figure.

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)’s Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account report reveals that the outdoor recreation industry generated $862 billion in economic output in 2021.

This resulted in the creation of 4.5 million jobs – that’s three per cent of all workers in the United States. The total economic output value is 1.9 per cent of the nation’s total GDP.

Across the 50 states, the outdoor recreation economy contributed between 4.8 per cent and 1.3 per cent of their individual GDPs – Hawaii saw the largest impact on the state GDPs while New York and Connecticut were the lowest.

Among the various segments within this classification, boating and fishing were said to have contributed $50.4 billion in economic output, making these markets the largest economic driver among conventional outdoor recreation activities.

The American Sportfishing Association – the industry body which also organises the successful ICAST fishing trade show each summer – was delighted to receive the news.

A spokesman for the ASA said: “[We] recognise the important value outdoor recreation has across the United States and we are proud to be part of an industry that plays a critical role in growing our nation’s economy.

“The outdoor recreation industry’s contribution to the US economy is greater than the amount contributed by other notable industries such as oil and gas extraction, mining, agriculture, and computers and electronics.

“The economic impact of our industry is also an indicator of how important it is for Americans to have access to clean waters and abundant fisheries. ASA will continue our work with Congress, federal agencies and at the state level to ensure that outdoor participation continues to grow.
“The growth our industry saw in 2021 indicates that outdoor recreation remains a top priority for all Americans in terms of time and dollars spent. Outdoor recreation will continue to have a huge impact on our nation even in the face of overall economic uncertainty. ASA is committed to promoting participation.”

The figures are a welcome rise given that, in 2020, the outdoor recreation economy contributed just $689 billion in gross domestic output, equalling 1.8 per cent of the US GDP. Although much of this was said to be down to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to that, the outdoor recreation economy typically equalled 2.2 per cent of the GDP, so it is clear the gap is closing.
The outdoor recreation industry is also ahead of the country in overall economic growth, with an increase of 18.9 per cent from 2020 to 2021 compared to just a 5.9 per cent increase in the overall US economy.

The tackle trade also saw a 13.1 per cent rise in job growth from 2020 to 2021, equal to 3.1 per cent of the country’s total job growth.
You can read the full report via under the Reports and Trends tab.