Millions of people benefit directly from their local park and recreation agencies in many ways—as gathering places to meet with friends and family, open spaces to exercise and reconnect with nature or as community resources where they can get a nutritious meal. We have always known that local and regional public parks add significant value and benefits to their communities in terms of Conservation, Health & Wellness and Social Equity. Beyond that, local and regional park agencies are also engines of economic activity in their communities.

How Much Does Parks and Recreation Contribute to the U.S. Economy?

America’s local park and recreation agencies generated $154 billion in economic activity in 2015, nearly $81 billion in value added and more than 1.1 million jobs that boosted labor income by $55 billion.

More specifically, operations spending by local park and recreation agencies generated nearly $91 billion in total economic activity during 2015. That activity boosted real gross domestic product (GDP) by $49 billion and supported more than 732,000 jobs that accounted for nearly $34 billion in salaries, wages and benefits across the nation.

Further, local park and recreation agencies also invested an estimated $23 billion on capital programs in 2015. The capital spending led to an additional $64 billion in economic activity, a contribution of $32 billion to GDP, $21 billion in labor-related income and nearly 378,000 jobs.

These are the key findings from research conducted by NRPA and the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University for the Economic Impact of Local Parks Report.

Policymakers and elected officials at all levels of government should take notice. Investments made to local and regional parks not only raise the standard of living in our neighborhoods, towns and cities, but they also spark activity that can ripple throughout the economy.

Read the Executive Summary Report

 

The Economic Impact of Local Parks: Infographic


Spread the Word

Help us spread the word about the economic benefits of local parks in your community! Below you will find talking points and a press release template that you can share with your local media contacts. You can also download customized flyers with your state’s economic impact numbers by clicking on your state in the map above.


Interactive Charts

About the Study

In 2015, NRPA joined forces with the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University to estimate the impact of spending by local park and recreation agencies on the U.S. economy. Until then, there had been no national study to estimate the economic contribution of the thousands of local park and recreation agencies throughout the nation to the U.S. economy. Read a more thorough, technical discussion of the study here.

NRPA and the Center for Regional Analysis joined forces again in 2018 to update the landmark 2015 study. Both the 2015 and 2018 studies focused exclusively on the direct, indirect and induced effects local park and recreation agencies’ spending has on economic activity, with analysis based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Read a more thorough, technical discussion of the study here.

News Stories

8.15.18Parks and Recreation Update

Be creative in getting children's views on parks and rec

8.15.18Public Communication and Outreach

Chicago zoo offers wildlife data-collection tools to other cities

8.15.18Public Communication and Outreach

Students can take virtual field trips to Calif. parks