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New Report Shows Outdoor Recreation Economy Stronger Than Ever

Posted by jmoschella at Aug 13, 2020 01:35 PM |

A new report about the outdoor recreation economy in Washington shows just how important hikers' contributions are to making our state thrive. From money added to the overall economy to the 264,000 people employed by recreation, it's clear that we need to continue to advocate for increased investment in the outdoor community.

We’ve long known that the outdoor recreation industry is a key part of Washington’s economy. Now, a recently released report shows us just how much hikers like you help the state's economy. 

Photo by Britt Le.jpg
A new report shows that outdoor recreation continues to add more money and more jobs to Washington's economy. Photo by Britt Lê.

The Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State, which was released in late July, says that outdoor recreation contributes $40.3 billion in annual economic activity in the state of Washington. This number is a significant increase from the $21.6 billion that the report noted when it was originally published in 2015. The report was updated by the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and conducted by Earth Economics. 

Vital to the state's economy 

Information about the contributions of outdoor recreation to Washington are vital to help lawmakers prioritize programming and agency funding as they decide on state and local budgets. These numbers also help to reinforce what we already knew — Washington’s hikers help make the state go

Washington’s outdoor recreation dollars are an investment. Each dollar spent on outdoor recreation for things like gear, parking passes and permits goes on to impact other industries and create economic activity. This means that, according to the report, for each dollar spent on outdoor recreation in Washington, $1.52 in economic activity is supported. 

The numbers on spending are just as striking. Washington’s residents and visitors spend $7.7 billion on gear annually, and spend $18.8 billion on outdoor recreation trips, including ones to local and municipal parks. 

Jobs in the outdoor recreation sector far surpass the number of jobs created by the aerospace industry in Washington. Photo by Lisa Taylor.

Jobs, visitors and so much more

The numbers paint a picture of how Washingtonians love the outdoors, but they also tell us how many people need the outdoors for their work

The report outlines that 1 in 17 jobs in Washington are tied to outdoor recreation spending, and that for every $1 million spent on outdoor recreation, 10 jobs are created. 

In total, 264,000 jobs in the state are supported by outdoor recreation. For perspective, those numbers put outdoor recreation on par with the number of jobs in the aerospace industry. 

These numbers are further evidence that trails are a must-have. Looking to the future, the passing of the Great American Outdoors Act will provide funding to address deferred maintenance projects in Washington, potentially supporting more jobs in the state. 

As Washington sees its population continue to grow and wrestles with impacts to its economy from COVID-19, investments in trails are more important than ever.