The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has released economic data for 2021 exhibiting outdoor recreation’s powerful and positive economic impact on the U.S. economy. The outdoor recreation economy in Arkansas grew a stunning 23percent from 2020 to 2021, according to the BEA Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account. This year’s report shows that outdoor recreation creates $3.5 billion in value added for Arkansas, accounts for 2.4percent of Arkansas’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and includes 39,929 jobs. This is the largest recorded measure for Arkansas since the BEA started calculating the size of the outdoor recreation economy in 2012.
At a national level, these new numbers show outdoor recreation generates $862 billion in economic output, comprises 3percent of U.S. employees and creates 4.5 million jobs. This means the outdoor recreation economy contributes more to the U.S. economy than oil and gas extraction, mining, etc. (
This is the fifth consecutive year that BEA has released government data on this critical industry sector. Today’s release shows how the outdoor industry, which played a vital economic and social role throughout the pandemic, has since sustained remarkable growth and continued to bolster local economies. 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.
“Arkansas is known as ‘The Natural State’ with good reason – our natural resources ensure that we will continue to be a destination for outdoor recreation and a core driver for economic growth,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “Our Office of Outdoor Recreation, led by Katherine Andrews, continues to work to ensure the state’s strategic growth as a place where outdoor businesses and recreation communities flourish.”
Some key highlights from the 2021 data on the outdoor recreation economy in Arkansas:
• Outdoor recreation accounts for 39,929 jobs in Arkansas or 3.1 percent of all employees in the state
• Top industries in Arkansas include boating/fishing, RVing, hunting/shooting/trapping, equestrian and motorcycling/ATVing
• Outdoor recreation in Arkansas accounts for $1.78 billion in wage compensation
• In Arkansas, 39,929 people are employed by outdoor recreation, compared to 37,076 in private industry, 5,284 in manufacturing and 13,201 in retail
“The BEA data underscores how important it is to invest in public lands, waters and recreation infrastructure from coast to coast and for recreation activities of all types,” said Jessica Turner, president of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). “From the creation of jobs and increased profit for small businesses in local economies, to larger boons to our national economy, this sector is a consistent driver, even in times of economic uncertainty. The strength of the outdoor recreation economy reflects what many in the industry have long known to be true: there are infinite benefits that come from more people spending time outdoors, and they’ll only grow with continued investment.”