Outdoor Recreation as an Economic Driver

In 2020, during a year of shutdowns and closures, outdoor recreation generated $689 billion in economic impact, accounting for 1.8% of U.S. GDP and 4.3 million American jobs.

Boating and Fishing Lead Contributor to Outdoor Recreation Economy

Overwhelmingly, recreational boating and fishing is the number one contributor to the outdoor recreation economy and is the largest activity in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

In 2020, traditional outdoor recreation – such as boating, fishing, hiking, and RVing – thrived, with these activities increasing their contribution to the overall outdoor recreation economy by 22%. This increase was driven primarily by higher spending on boating and fishing, which was up nearly 30%.


Key Outdoor Recreation Industry Data

of U.S. Employment
in economic output
jobs supported


Outdoor Recreation’s Share of GDP is Larger than a Host of Traditionally Recognized Industries

Outdoor Recreation’s Share of GDP



Boating and Fishing are the #1 Contributor to the Outdoor Recreation Economy
  1. Boating & fishing
  2. RVing
  3. Hunting, shooting & trapping
  4. Motorcycling & ATVing
  5. Equestrian
  6. Snow activities

BEA 2020 Comparison to 2019