OIA STATEMENT ON BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OUTDOOR RECREATION SATELLITE ACCOUNT PRELIMINARY RELEASE

February 14, 2018

Today, for the first time ever, outdoor recreation’s contributions are being counted as a unique part of United States gross domestic product (GDP). The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released a preliminary look at GDP outputs from outdoor recreation. Its analysis demonstrates that growth in the outdoor industry continues to outpace the economy as a whole and now accounts for over 2 percent of the entire United States GDP.

The prototype estimate finds that outdoor recreation contributed over $373 billion toward U.S. GDP or over $673 billion toward total U.S. gross output, which is the total value of domestic goods and services produced by an industry. This contributes to and supports the $887 billion that consumers spend annually on outdoor recreation and confirms the national importance of investments in recreation funding and infrastructure. Importantly, the data paints a clear picture that Americans desire outdoor recreation and it is a strong and growing sector across the country.

Alex Boian, Vice President of Government Affairs & OIAPAC Treasurer, Outdoor Industry Association

FAQ

How is the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data different from the data in the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Outdoor Recreation Economy report?

The BEA prototype estimate measures “gross domestic product outputs” on the total value of domestic goods and services produced by an industry. The OIA study measures consumer spending on all gear-, apparel-, footwear- and equipment-related expenses and associated travel for outdoor recreation.

Also, BEA’s analysis does not measure travel expenses or associated recreation spending on close-to-home recreation or on trips that are less than 50 miles from a consumer’s home. In the OIA report, the research shows that more than two-thirds of outdoor recreation trips are within 50 miles of home and these close-to-home trips represent 67 percent of the $887 billion in consumer spending.

How does the $373 billion toward U.S. GDP or over $673 billion toward total U.S. gross output line up with OIA’s $887 billion in consumer spending on outdoor recreation?

The BEA analysis and the OIA Outdoor Recreation Economy report measure different economic contributors. The BEA prototype estimate measures contribution to the U.S. GDP and gross domestic product outputs, while the OIA study measures U.S. consumer spending on all gear-, apparel-, footwear- and equipment-related expenses and associated travel for outdoor recreation.

On a macro scale, U.S. consumer spending is much larger than the U.S. GDP and gross output, demonstrating why the numbers are different and all are relevant. The three data points are companion numbers that validate that outdoor recreation is a growing and critical sector of the U.S. economy.

Also, the BEA estimate only includes the U.S. “value-add” or the wholesale and retail mark-ups applied to imported products, while the OIA figures report consumer spending on the total value of outdoor products.

What is the difference in methodology between the BEA prototype and the OIA Outdoor Recreation Economy report?

BEA’s prototype estimate released today simply offered top-line results. The BEA has not made their methodology available, but it will be released in the near future.

What we do know is that the two reports are based on different methodologies. Essentially, the OIA economic report – which is basic economic input-output modeling – starts with the consumer and works down to the manufacturing/imports point. The BEA estimate goes in the opposite direction, starting with manufacturing and imports and works up to the consumer. The BEA approach uses different data sets and methods which account for differences too.

Will OIA continue to reference the numbers from its report or will it adopt the new numbers from the BEA?

Because the reports are based on two different methodologies and measure different aspects of recreation’s economic impacts, both are relevant. The OIA report also allows us to share important state-level data. We hope that the BEA will receive the needed ongoing funding for this to become an ongoing study that will track outdoor recreation’s contributions beyond direct impact and dive deeper than only national-level data. We will continue to ask Congress to provide that funding. In the interim, we will continue to use both the OIA Outdoor Recreation Economy report and the BEA Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account data, as these companion numbers validate that outdoor recreation is a growing and critical sector of the United States economy and an important part of American communities.

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