Bureau of Economic Analysis Report Demonstrates that Outdoor Recreation Is an Economic Driver in Chesapeake Bay States and across the Country

Annapolis, MD – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released a new report on the economic impact of outdoor recreation in states and nationwide for the year 2019. The BEA found that the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.1 percent of total U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, or $459.8 billion.

The BEA report shows that outdoor recreation accounts for billions of dollars in value added to the state economy in Chesapeake Bay watershed states and billions in compensation.

The following quote is attributable to Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn:

“Outdoor recreation is very clearly a significant contributor to our national economy and to the economies of states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that the outdoor recreation economy continues to account for more than 2% of the U.S. GDP as a whole.

“Across all states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, value added to the economy from outdoor recreation amounts to more that $63 billion. The economic impact of outdoor recreation is not just impressive; it demonstrates that there is great demand by the public for outdoor recreation opportunities.

“Open space and nature are the critical infrastructure standing up this large sector of our economy, and we must continue to invest in parks and open space in order to meet public demand for outdoor recreation.

“Chesapeake Conservancy is calling for a Chesapeake National Recreation Area that will ensure a permanent and expanded National Park Service role in the Chesapeake Bay to create more parks, to enhance existing parks, to provide access for underserved communities to the Bay and its resources, to support outdoor recreation in the Bay region.”

A table outlining report findings on the outdoor recreation economy for states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is listed below:

Table 1: Outdoor Recreation Value Added, Employment, and Compensation as a Percent of Total, 2019. Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, “Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, U.S. and States, 2019,” November 10, 2020, https://www.bea.gov/news/2020/outdoor-recreation-satellite-account-us-and-states-2019

State Total Outdoor Recreation Value Added (billions) Percent of Total Value Added Total Outdoor Recreation Employment Percent of Total Employment Total Outdoor Recreation Compensation (billions) Percent of Total Compensation
DE $1.34 1.7% 18,186 3.0% $0.62 1.8%
D.C. $1.64 1.1% 17,218 1.9% $0.97 1.0%
MD $7.14 1.7% 89,335 2.3% $3.85 1.7%
NY $29.25 1.7% 291,429 2.3% $15.91 1.7%
PA $13.21 1.6% 170,565 2.2% $6.60 1.5%
VA $9.31 1.7% 123,369 2.3% $4.72 1.5%
WV $1.5 1.9% 22,543 2.5% $0.68 1.6%


*Value added / GDP “consists of the value of outdoor recreation goods and services produced less the value of expenses incurred for their production. The activity of self-employed individuals is included in value added.” Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, “Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, U.S. and States, 2019”, Page 6, https://www.bea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-11/orsa1120_1.pdf