Economic impact of outdoor recreation will be measured permanently

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The final updated report for 2018 showed that boating and fishing was the largest core contributor to outdoor recreation's GDP in 2016.

The final updated report for 2018 showed that boating and fishing was the largest core contributor to outdoor recreation's GDP in 2016.

After a year of uncertainty, the federal government will permanently measure outdoor recreation’s contribution to gross domestic product.

The marine industry learned last year that outdoor recreation, including boating and fishing, contributes 2.2 percent to the U.S. GDP, but it wasn’t clear whether the Bureau of Economic Analysis would continue to break out those activities.

The U.S. government decided last week to permanently fund the Outdoor Recreational Satellite Account, according to BEA communications chief Lucas Hitt.

“I’m happy to report that as we got 2019 funding in place — we were one of the ones shut down for a while — Congress did see fit to increase our funding to continue this program, so that will make it a permanent program moving forward,” Hitt told Trade Only Today.

The goal for 2019 is to integrate 2018 into the data. That could be meaningful for boating and fishing since boat sales reached their highest point ever last year in terms of dollars.

BEA communications chief Lucas Hitt (at podium) and economist Tina Highfill unveiled preliminary data at the Miami International Boat Show that shows outdoor recreation's 2.2 percent contribution to the U.S. GDP.

BEA communications chief Lucas Hitt (at podium) and economist Tina Highfill unveiled preliminary data at the Miami International Boat Show that shows outdoor recreation's 2.2 percent contribution to the U.S. GDP.

Boating and fishing already was the largest core outdoor recreation activity in 2016, accounting for $36.9 billion of real gross output, ORSA said last September.

“It’s also our goal for this year to develop the subnational numbers. Presumably that will be state data,” Hitt said. “Our goal with any of these regionalizations is to move to the lowest level of aggregation that we can.”

The goal is also to do other breakouts to examine imports and exports. Those numbers could also highlight boating, one of few industries that has a positive trade balance.

The outdoor recreation account is the latest addition to a series of satellite accounts that complement BEA’s statistics.

The satellite accounts do not change BEA’s official statistics, including GDP. Rather, they provide greater detail and allow closer analysis of a specific area of the economy by extracting information embedded in the official economic statistics.

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