Department of Commerce: Boating and Fishing Represent Nearly $37 Billion in U.S. Gross Output

Yesterday, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis announced the final, first-ever report on the economic contribution of the outdoor industry, showing boating and fishing as the leading outdoor segment with nearly $37 billion in U.S. gross output. 

The report, known as the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA), was championed by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and thanks to their leadership, was finally made a reality. ORSA is critical to the outdoor industry as it demonstrates in an official capacity the impact of outdoor recreation on the U.S. economy. NMMA and it’s partners in the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR)  have long sought to secure funding and support for the data. Thanks to Gardner and Shaheen, who recognized the important role the data would have in prioritizing outdoor recreation in decisions made in Washington and by elected officials around the country, the outdoor economy now has a seat at the table.

Federally funded by the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, ORSA finds that the outdoor recreation industry had a U.S. GDP contribution of 2.2 percent and annual gross economic output of $734 billion in 2016. This economic contribution level is greater than other key economic sectors, including the mining, utilities and chemical products manufacturing industries. In addition, with 4.5 million jobs, the outdoor recreation sector generates similar employment as other major job creators in the United States, including hospitals, transportation and warehousing, and educational services.

Today’s release was the final, revised report, following prototype statistics released in February. The updated ORSA reflects expert comments and feedback solicited by BEA and submitted by a wide range of organizations in the outdoor recreation economy.

To mark the announcement, ORR organized a Capitol Hill briefing yesterday with key federal officials, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Bureau of Economic Analysis Director Brian Moyer, and Department of Interior Senior Advisor Rick May, and a video greeting from Senator Steve Daines (R-MT).

“Today’s report provides official government recognition of the outdoor recreation industry as a powerful force in the American economy,” said Thom Dammrich, ORR chair and president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “As one of the nation’s largest economic sectors, it is critical that our national leaders do everything they can to keep the economic engine running at full speed. That includes common sense policies to expand public access, modernize infrastructure and remove barriers to efficient and effective public-private partnerships. We thank the team at the Bureau of Economic Analysis as well as Senators Gardner and Shaheen for their work and leadership in making the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account possible.”

The BEA’s analysis also found outdoor recreation to have a strong wage growth rate of 4.3 percent between 2015-2016, which surpasses the overall U.S. wage growth of 2.7 percent during the same period.

ORR strongly supports continuing and expanding ORSA. Senate legislation funding the Department of Commerce operations for fiscal year 2019, beginning October 1, 2018, specifically includes on-going funding for ORSA and its expansion to generate state-level projections. ORR has called upon the House to follow the Senate’s lead on ORSA and thus implement the Congressional direction contained in the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016.

The full report issued by BEA can be found here.

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is the nation’s premier coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations. Please visit for more information on the coalition’s activities and membership.