Feds prepare to release first-ever data on outdoor recreation

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will release initial statistics on Friday, September 20 showing the role that outdoor recreation – including boating and fishing – plays in each state’s economy.

This will mark the first-time state data are included in BEA’s outdoor recreation statistics, following the release of the agency’s national numbers last year, which showed that the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2 percent of current-dollar GDP in 2016, or $412 billion.

An updated set of national outdoor recreation statistics will be released at the same time. Both the national and state data will cover 2012 through 2017.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis rolled out the first set of national statistics last year. The statistics included data on gross output, essentially sales or receipts, for various outdoor recreation activities.

This year, BEA is expanding its lineup of national data to include statistics measuring how much various outdoor activities contribute to the nation’s GDP, also known as the activities’ value added. Similar to last year, BEA also will release data showing the role that industries, such as manufacturing and retail trade, play in the national outdoor recreation economy.

For all 50 states and the District of Columbia, BEA is measuring outdoor activities’ value added, but not their gross output. Additionally, BEA is measuring value added, employment, and compensation for industries that participate in outdoor recreation for the United States, all the states, and the District of Columbia.

Having a rich set of both state and national data on outdoor recreation to draw upon will inform decision-making by businesses, policymakers, and managers of public lands and waters. Both the state and national data flow from BEA’s Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, which was created by a 2016 federal law championed by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

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