Fed Study Finds Outdoor Recreation Has Larger Economic Impact Nationally Than Mining Or Ag Industry

Mar 7, 2018

The federal government conducted its first economic analysis on outdoor recreation. It has a bigger impact on the country’s GDP than previously thought.

The new study by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis showed that outdoor recreation accounted for two percent of the entire U.S. economy in 2016. 

The bureau found this information by reorganizing the current data it collects. Outdoor recreation was categorized in two ways: leisure activities including gardening and guided tours and convention activities such as hiking and camping.

Tara Highfill, a research economist at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, said two percent is actually very significant in the overall economy.

“That may sound small, but it's actually quite large when you look at other industries,” she said. “For example, outdoor recreation is larger than the entire mining industry in the U.S. It’s larger than the entire agriculture industry in the U.S."

Highfill said the most surprising finding is the size of the outdoor recreation economy and the speed at which it is growing. In 2016, the outdoor recreation economy grew 3.8 percent, compared to a growth of 2.8 percent in the overall economy. A final report will be released in September.