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Coast-to-Coast Surge in State Recreation Economies: New Rankings Reveal Robust Growth

The U.S. outdoor recreation economy has witnessed a remarkable upswing, as evidenced by the latest state rankings released by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. This comprehensive analysis showcases the significant growth in outdoor recreation across various states, highlighting its increasing contribution to the national economy.

In 2022, the outdoor recreation sector generated an impressive $1.1 trillion in economic output, representing 2.2% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This sector has also been a substantial employment generator, creating 5 million jobs, which accounts for 3.2% of the total U.S. workforce. Notably, the outdoor recreation economy’s growth rate was 2.5 times that of the U.S. economy overall, with job growth in this sector doubling the national average.

Chris Perkins, vice president of Programs for ORR, commented on the findings. 

“It is incredible and unsurprising to see that outdoor recreation grew in every state across the country in 2022,” he said. 

Perkins emphasized the potential of these statistics to initiate state-level discussions about enhancing outdoor recreation infrastructure, fostering favorable conditions for outdoor businesses, and ensuring equitable access to outdoor activities for all.

The report also underscores the role of the 20 states that have established State Offices of Outdoor Recreation. These offices exemplify the collective effort to achieve goals in outdoor recreation infrastructure investment, business support, program development, and community support.

States seeking to bolster their outdoor recreation industry are encouraged to explore opportunities for grant funding and consider establishing state-wide Offices of Outdoor Recreation (ORECs). The ORR website offers resources and guidance for these initiatives.

The report’s findings are significant for the outdoor recreation industry, especially in terms of economic contribution and growth. 

California leads in terms of the size of its outdoor recreation economy, with a GDP contribution of $73.8 billion. Florida and Texas follow with $52.4 billion and $47.6 billion, respectively. New York and Illinois also feature prominently in the rankings, contributing $31.2 billion and $21.9 billion to their state GDPs.

In terms of growth from 2021 to 2022, Hawaii tops the list with a staggering 44.4% increase, followed by Alaska and the District of Columbia with 29.5% and 28.6%, respectively. Wyoming and Florida also showed significant growth during this period.

Looking at the growth from 2019 to 2022, Indiana leads with a 12.5% increase. South Dakota, Iowa, Idaho, and Arkansas also feature in the top five, demonstrating substantial growth over the three-year period.

The report also highlights states where outdoor recreation forms a significant part of the state GDP. Hawaii leads this category with outdoor recreation comprising 5.6% of its GDP. Vermont, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska also show a high percentage of their GDP coming from outdoor recreation.

These findings are a testament to the resilience and growth potential of the outdoor recreation industry. They not only reflect the sector’s economic significance but also underscore the importance of continued investment and support from both state and federal levels. The growth in outdoor recreation not only benefits the economy but also enhances community well-being and environmental stewardship.

For campground, glamping, and RV park owners, as well as outdoor hospitality operators, these statistics offer a promising outlook. The growth in outdoor recreation signifies increased opportunities for these businesses to expand and thrive. It also highlights the importance of aligning business strategies with state and national trends in outdoor recreation.

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Julie Roberts
Julie Roberts
March 16, 2024 6:19 am

Whoa, isn’t it cool how outdoor fun is boosting state economies? Go, California, Florida, Texas! Let’s keep chatting at state level for fair play and biz support, making our outdoors even better!


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Coast-to-Coast Surge in State Recreation Economies: New Rankings Reveal Robust Growth! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/coast-to-coast-surge-in-state-recreation-economies-new-rankings-reveal-robust-growth/