Outdoor Recreation Helps Drive the U.S. Economy

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

For the second consecutive year, federal government statistics demonstrated that outdoor recreation is a key driver of the national economy and communities around the country. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) report found that outdoor recreation in 2017 supported 5.2 million jobs and accounted for $778 billion in annual economic impact. Some of the largest outdoor recreation activities include motorized recreation, boating and fishing, RV’ing, biking, hunting, camping and skiing.

The BEA’s report notes outdoor recreation makes up 2.2% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). This share of GDP is larger than many other industries, such as mining, utilities, farming and ranching, and chemical products manufacturing.

For the first time, the report also compiles economic data for the 50 states and District of Columbia. California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas were the top five states for outdoor recreation as a percentage of total federal GDP. In terms of percentage of state GDP, outdoor recreation was largest in Hawaii, Montana, Maine, Vermont and Wyoming.

The report was welcomed by the “Outdoor Recreation Roundtable” (ORR), America’s leading coalition of U.S. outdoor recreation trade associations. ORR is comprised of 28 members, including SEMA, and represents more than 50,000 businesses that produce vehicles, apparel, equipment and services enjoyed in our nation’s parks, waterways, trails and outdoor spaces. SEMA’s focus within ORR is on motorized recreation (four-wheel, ATVs, UTVs, etc.) along with all the equipment that makes it possible to tow RVs, trailers, boats and off-road vehicles (suspension, wheels, tires, increased horsepower, etc.).

For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at