Outdoor Recreation Industry Comparisons

January 1, 2013, Department, by Danielle Taylor

The raw numbers from the Outdoor Recreation Economy Report look even more impressive and encouraging once you see how they stack up against activities and expenditures from other fields.Despite the depressing economy, Americans are still making it a priority to get outdoors. A recent report from the Outdoor Industry Association shows the impact outdoor recreation has on the American economy: 6.1 million jobs, $646 billion in annual spending, and almost $80 million in federal, state, and local tax revenue.

But the numbers look even better when matched up with similar measures from other industries that Americans clearly support. Check out these encouraging findings, gleaned from OIA's 2012 Outdoor Recreation Economy Report:

• Americans spend nearly as much on snow sports ($53 billion) as they do on Internet access ($54 billion) each year.

• Americans spend $646 billion each year on outdoor recreation-related expenditures, far outstripping national consumer spending on household utilities ($309 billion), pharmaceuticals ($331 billion), motor vehicles and parts ($340 billion), or even gasoline and other fuels ($354 billion). In comparison to necessities such as financial services and insurance ($780 billion) and outpatient health care ($767 billion), $646 billion in discretionary spending on outdoor recreation-related purchases shows how much Americans value this kind of activity.

• Americans spend significantly more on bicycling gear and trips ($81 billion) than they do on airplane tickets and fees ($51 billion).

• Each year, 6.1 million people are employed by America's outdoor recreation industry, developing products, running businesses, producing inventory, marketing and branding products, selling gear, managing employees, and more. In comparison, the outdoor recreation economy supports more jobs than real estate (2.0 million), oil and gas (2.1 million), information (2.5 million), education (3.5 million), transportation and warehousing (4.3 million), construction (5.5 million), or even finance and insurance (5.8 million).

• More American jobs depend on trail sports (768,000) than there are lawyers in the U.S. (728,200).