According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the outdoor recreation industry generated a record $862 billion in gross output, 1.9% of U.S. GDP and 4.5 million jobs in 2021. From 2020-2021, this industry grew by 18.9% while the U.S. economy as a whole grew by 5.7%, and outdoor recreation employment grew by 13%.
These numbers are reflective of skyrocketing participation in outdoor recreation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 164 million Americans have made outdoor recreation a priority in their lives, whether it’s a visit to a local park or a trip into the expansive backcountry. Investments in outdoor infrastructure and access can help maximize opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and, in doing so, offer economic, social, and health benefits for both rural and urban communities.
States have employed a variety of mechanisms in recent years to fund outdoor recreation projects and programs. These measures, together with significant federal resources, can help states tap into this fast-growing sector of the economy.