U.S. Government: The Outdoor Industry Contributed Almost $374 Billion to the Economy

Made up 2% of GDP, more than mining, oil, and gas
By Adam Roy ,

Jeremy Bronson

The outdoor industry contributed $373.7 billion to the United States economy in 2016, according to a new preliminary report from the Department of Commerce

The statistics, gathered by the department's Bureau of Economic Analysis, found that the gross output of the outdoor industry made up 2% of the United States' gross domestic product that year. It also grew faster than most other industries, expanding 3.8% compared to 2.8% for the economy as a whole.

The report is a follow-up to the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016, which required the BEA to quantify outdoor recreation's impact on the U.S. economy. In a press release, the BEA said that motorized recreation such as RV touring was the single biggest category, making up $59.4 billion of the total. The new figures also top the value of the mining industry (including oil and gas), which the BEA estimates at $260 billion.

"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," said U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

While sizable, the BEA's reckoning of outdoor recreation's value is less than half of the $887 billion figure estimated by the Outdoor Industry Association. In a press release, the OIA attributed the gap to methodology; among other differences, the BEA did not include outdoor recreation trips within 50 miles of a consumer's home, which made up 67% of the OIA's final figure. The BEA also only measured the retail markup on products produced overseas, while the OIA's calculations used their full value.

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