Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account: Updated Statistics for 2012-2016

Updated statistics from the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) show that the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2 percent ($412 billion) of current-dollar GDP in 2016. In data produced for the first time, using inflation-adjusted (real) GDP, the outdoor recreation economy grew 1.7 percent in 2016, faster than the 1.6 percent growth for the overall U.S. economy. In addition, real gross output, compensation, and employment all grew faster in outdoor recreation than in the overall economy in 2016.

  • Current Release: September 20, 2018
  • Next Release: September 20, 2019


First State Outdoor Recreation Data Coming Sept. 20

BEA produces national statistics that show how outdoor pursuits like snowboarding, biking, and boating ripple through the U.S. economy. This year, we are expanding the national data and also preparing BEA's first prototype statistics on the role of outdoor recreation in each state's economy. The state and national statistics are scheduled for release Sept. 20.

You can see the table format for the upcoming state prototype data in the Supplemental Information & Additional Data section below.

Outdoor recreation and the economic activities that support it – for example, a factory making fishing lures, a family traveling to hike in a national park, or a ski instructor giving lessons – are already woven invisibly into BEA's broad national statistics, such as GDP. The Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account pulls these threads of data together in one place, with expanded detail, creating a picture of the outdoor recreation economy that would otherwise remain hidden within BEA's existing statistics.

These data add to public understanding and inform decision-making by policymakers, businesspeople and the managers of public lands and waters.

The outdoor recreation account, established by a 2016 federal law, joins other supplemental statistics that spotlight arts and cultural production, travel and tourism, and health care.

What is the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account?

Measures the economic activity as well as the sales or receipts generated by outdoor recreational activities, such as fishing and RVing. These statistics also measure each industry’s production of outdoor goods and services and its contribution to U.S. GDP. Industry breakdowns of outdoor employment and compensation are also included.

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