Report: RVing Represents Over $30 Billion in U.S. Gross Output

Sep 21, 2018 | Member News

By: RV Industry Association Staff

Yesterday, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis announced the final, first-ever report on the economic contribution of the outdoor industry, showing outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and that the RV industry contributed over $30 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016.

The report, known as the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA), was championed by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and made possible by their bill the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016 (REC Act). During Advocacy Day in 2016, members of the RV Industry asked their Members of Congress to support the REC Act, and thanks to the work of those advocates and the leadership of Gardner and Shaheen, as well as the many Senate and House co-sponsors of the bill, outdoor recreation is now recognized as a powerful force in the U.S. economy.

ORSA is critical to the outdoor industry as it demonstrates in an official capacity the impact of outdoor recreation on the U.S. economy. The RV Industry Association and its partners in the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) have long sought to secure funding and support for the data. Thanks to the members of ORR, who recognized the important role the data would have in prioritizing outdoor recreation in decisions made in Washington and by elected officials around the country, the outdoor economy now has a seat at the table. 

The report, federally funded by the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, finds that the outdoor recreation industry had an annual gross economic output of $734 billion in 2016, which is greater than other key economic sectors, including the mining, utilities and chemical products manufacturing industries. In addition, with 4.5 million jobs, the outdoor recreation sector generates similar employment as other major job creators in the U.S., including hospitals, transportation and warehousing and educational services.

Impressively, the wage growth rate of the outdoor recreation industry is 4.3 percent, nearly double the 2.7 percent wage growth of the overall U.S. economy. These wage growth numbers have been particularly evident in the RV manufacturing segment which has seen significant wage increases over the last several years.

Yesterday’s release was the final, revised report, following prototype statistics released in February. The updated report reflects expert comments and feedback solicited by BEA and submitted by a wide range of organizations in the outdoor recreation economy.

To mark the announcement, ORR organized a Capitol Hill briefing yesterday with key federal officials, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Bureau of Economic Analysis Director Brian Moyer, Department of Interior Senior Advisor Rick May and a video greeting from Senator Steve Daines (R-MT).

“The outdoor recreation industry contribution to our nation’s GDP has more than pulled its weight and we’ve been a major engine behind the recent economic growth rate.” said Frank Hugelmeyer, ORR vice chair and president of the RV Industry Association. “Due to its importance to the overall economy and especially rural communities, outdoor recreation deserves to be a priority at national and state levels. ORR looks forward to working collaboratively with leaders to implement growth-oriented policies that will ensure our industry remains a strong GDP contributor and jobs generator for years to come. We thank the team at the Bureau of Economic Analysis as well as Senators Gardner and Shaheen for their work and leadership in making the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account possible.”

The RV Industry Association and its ORR partners strongly support continuing and expanding ORSA. Senate legislation funding the Department of Commerce operations for fiscal year 2019, beginning October 1, 2018, specifically includes ongoing funding for ORSA and its expansion to generate state-level projections. ORR has called upon the House to follow the Senate’s lead on ORSA and implement the Congressional direction contained in the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016.

The full report issued by BEA can be found here.

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is the nation’s premier coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations. Please visit for more information on the coalition’s activities and membership.