Outdoor Recreation as an Economic Driver

The Outdoor Recreation economy saw a record-breaking year in 2021, sustaining remarkable growth despite navigating a post-pandemic environment. In 2021, Outdoor Recreation generated $862 billion in economic output, accounting for 1.9% of U.S. GDP, and supported 4.5 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 27 states and the District of Columbia.

In 2021, for the second consecutive year the boating community welcomed over 415,000 first-time boat buyers to the market. Overall, the increase of new boaters, renters and boat club members positions the recreational boating industry well for future seasons.  


Key Outdoor Recreation Industry Data

of U.S. GDP
in economic output
jobs supported


At the state level, value added for outdoor recreation as a share of state GDP ranged from 4.8% in Hawaii to 1.3% in New York and Connecticut.

Outdoor Recreation’s Share of GDP



Boating and Fishing is the #1 Contributor to the Outdoor Recreation Economy
  1. Boating & fishing
  2. RVing
  3. Hunting, shooting & trapping
  4. Snow activities