The Outdoor Recreation Economy Nears One Trillion in Economic Output

The American Sportfishing Association recognizes the important value outdoor recreation has across the United States and we are proud to be part of an industry that plays a critical role in growing our nation’s economy. The outdoor recreation industry’s contribution to the U.S. economy is greater than the amount contributed by other notable industries such as oil and gas extraction, mining, agriculture, and computers and electronics.

In 2020, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, the outdoor recreation economy contributed just $689 billion in gross domestic output, equaling 1.8 percent of the U.S. GDP. Prior to the pandemic, the outdoor recreation economy typically equaled 2.2 percent of the GDP. We are getting close to closing the gap.

The outdoor recreation industry is also ahead of the country in overall economic growth, as we saw an increase of 18.9 percent from 2020 to 2021 compared to just a 5.9 percent increase in the overall U.S. economy. Our industry also saw a 13.1 percent increase in job growth from 2020 to 2021, equal to 3.1 percent of the country’s total job growth.

Among the various segments of outdoor recreation, boating and fishing contributed $50.4 billion in economic output. This makes fishing and boating the largest economic driver among conventional outdoor recreation activities.

The economic impact of our industry is also an indicator of how important it is for Americans to have access to clean waters and abundant fisheries. ASA will continue our work with Congress, federal agencies and at the state level to ensure that outdoor participation continues to grow.

The growth our industry saw in 2021 indicates that outdoor recreation remains a top priority for all Americans in terms of time and dollars spent. Outdoor recreation will continue to have a huge impact on our nation even in the face of overall economic uncertainty. ASA is committed to promoting participation in outdoor recreation and getting more Americans outside and on the water.

Read the report here.


The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association committed to representing the interests of the sportfishing and boating industries as well as the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry and anglers a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation and social values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America’s 55 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways through Keep America Fishing, our national angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate nearly $50 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for 800,000 people.