Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released statistics measuring the outdoor recreation economy. In 2021, outdoor recreation accounted for $862 billion in economic output (consumer spending), 1.9 percent or $454 billion of gross domestic product (GDP) and supported 4.5 million jobs. In Michigan, outdoor recreation in 2021 contributed $10.8 billion to the state economy, supported 109,000 jobs, and $5 billion in wages.
Heart of the Lakes, mParks, and Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance are thrilled to celebrate the 2021 report. The new data shows a $173 billion increase in consumer spending in 2021 vs 2020. This analysis demonstrates outdoor recreation’s powerful and positive economic impact on the U.S. economy as the nation rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic and Americans prioritized time outside.
“In the last few years, we have seen so many new people trying new outdoor activities. The availability and accessibility of outdoor recreation have welcomed a whole new population of outdoor enthusiasts,” said Clay Summers, executive director of mParks. “It’s no longer exclusionary, and we welcome all new participants and stewards of our public spaces.”
In 2021, Michigan ranked in the top ten in dollars generated from Boating/Fishing (#5) and RVing (#6), each generating $947,910,000 and $719,914,000, respectively. The state sits within the top 20 of all other measured activities: Hunting/Shooting/Trapping (#10), Motorcycling/ATVing (#13), Equestrian (#19), Climbing/Hiking/Tent Camping (#11), Snow Activities (#15), Bicycling (#20), Recreational Flying (#17).
“The year-over-year increase in value-added by hiking, biking, running, and paddling are proof that Michigan’s investments in trails have big payoffs,” said Andrea LaFontaine, executive director of Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. “We continue to attract destinations for travelers while maintaining beautiful public lands for our residents.”
Inflation-adjusted GDP for the outdoor recreation economy increased by 18.9 percent in 2021, compared with a 5.9 percent increase for the overall U.S. economy.
“The rate at which the outdoor recreation economy continues to increase is a great sign for our state. As more jobs are being created, more talent is moving to Michigan, more money is being generated, and in turn, more investment is being made in our outdoor spaces,” said Jonathan Jarosz, executive director of Heart of the Lakes.
Outdoor Recreation has sustained remarkable growth over the years, supporting people, communities, and economies in Michigan and across the country, especially in rural areas. The outdoor recreation economy came back stronger than ever after the COVID-19 pandemic and remains a steady source of strength nationally and a booming job creator locally. Coupled with the Outdoor Foundation’s recent findings that outdoor participation levels are at an all-time high, the economic data reinforces the strength of the outdoor industry as both an economic and social force.