In a recent webinar with the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) discussed statistics from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) showing that outdoor recreation has an economic value of almost $14 billion for the Pennsylvania economy. the owners of BEA and Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation business.
“Understanding this macro-level data is key to developing synergistic strategies to drive additional growth in outdoor recreation,” said Nathan Reigner, director of Outdoor Recreation in Pennsylvania. “With this data, we are able to see the full picture of the economic impact that outdoor recreation is having on the community. If we dig deeper, we can follow the trail of dollars from outdoor recreation to the manufacturing, retail, tourism, information and services sectors of Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania has the sixth largest outdoor recreation economy in the country, supported by a combination of exceptional recreation facilities, a generally diversified economy, active participation by Pennsylvania residents, and strong retail, manufacturing and tourism sectors.
The $13.6 billion economic value also supports 152,000 full-time jobs in Pennsylvania. Nationally, outdoor recreation generates $862 billion in economic output, which accounts for about 3 percent of all jobs in America.
“This information is key to a broader invitation to all to explore Penn’s Woods,” said Carrie Fischer Lepore, DCED Assistant Secretary for Marketing, Tourism and Film. “While Pennsylvania welcomes more than 200 million visitors annually, many of whom are drawn to our greater than great outdoors, this information helps us invite and welcome those who have yet to explore our backyard.”
During the webinar, speakers explained how BEA data breaks down specific topics like outdoor recreation to measure the true industry impact from all sources on outdoor recreation on the value added of Pennsylvania’s GDP, employment and compensation for different types of industries.
From there, the data is developed for specific outdoor activities, such as biking, RV driving, or snowboarding, to measure the full circle of the economy.
This holistic view helps improve the Commonwealth’s understanding of improving outdoor recreation and is useful to the state, local chambers of commerce, municipalities and other organizations seeking to understand the trends affecting outdoor recreation drive forward, including user habits.
Reigner noted that this data is also critical for companies looking to develop forward-thinking strategies to market, promote and potentially expand their operations.
“Pennsylvania is a truly exceptional place to live and work,” said Nick Gilson, owner of Gilson Snow. “We build with locally grown and sustainably harvested wood and ship it from a small farm on the Susquehanna River to over 50 countries worldwide. We have been blown away by the way Pennsylvania’s business ecosystem and the larger community has embraced our work and our team of artisans and women.”
Although Pennsylvania’s total compensation for outdoor recreation ranks seventh among all states, the growth rate of compensation ranks 38th among all states.
Noting that this is one area for Pennsylvania to make headway, Reigner noted that outdoor recreational workers make about 57 percent of the median wage for a Pennsylvania worker, $44,623 in 2021, compared to $77,884 -Dollars for all paid jobs in the state.
“Our purpose is at the front of our stores: ‘We exist to celebrate and protect public lands for all,’ that’s our reason and the path we follow,” said Steve Wood, Public Lands Manager of Community Marketing. “We work to create a welcoming and stylish experience inside and outside of our store that is at the same time technically legitimate and authentically connected to the community and our public lands.”