The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) decided it would hazard an (educated) guess at what the country’s outdoor recreation industry is worth to the U.S. economy. The result? Outdoor rec is responsible for 2.2 percent of annual GDP and more than $734 billion of U.S. economic output.
For comparison, the total contribution of the mining industry to U.S. GDP is less than 2 percent. The entire U.S. manufacturing base made up just 11. 7 percent of U.S. GDP in the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year.
The Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association issued a release praising the findings and suggesting they conform to its own findings.
“The government’s data confirms what many of us in the industry have known for quite some time. Millions of Americans love to get outside and enjoy time with friends and family, adventuring right out their back doors or off into our iconic wild places,” Jerry Stritzke, president and CEO of REI Co-op said in the press release.
What does it mean for outdoor enthusiasts? It means they have significant, and growing, clout as a voting bloc. As Outdoor Industry Association executive director Amy Roberts notes in the release, the sector is growing faster than the economy as a whole. Such success makes efforts like Aspen’s recent “Give a Flake” ad campaign more likely to pay off in the public policy arena, with lawmakers keenly aware of what outdoor rec ads to their budgets’ bottom lines.
*With great power comes great responsibility, voters. Let’s wield it well.