The future of Wyoming’s economy looked brighter in 2019, thanks to billions of dollars generated from outdoor recreation – with every sign that growth will continue.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its latest analysis of how outdoor recreation contributed to the economies of the states and the nations. The results are impressive and show the increasing importance the industry has for Wyoming and the entire Rocky Mountain Region.
Outdoor recreation generated $459.8 billion across the United States in 2019. That accounted for 2.1% of the nation’s gross domestic product for that year.
For the nation, the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services sector was the largest contributor to U.S. outdoor recreation value added in 2019, accounting for $128.5 billion. This was followed by retail trade ($98.6 billion) and manufacturing ($55.0 billion.)
So how did Wyoming fare?
In 2019, outdoor recreation contributed nearly $1.7 billion dollars to the state economy – that accounts for 4.2% of Wyoming’s GDP.
Only four other states had a higher GDP contribution from outdoor recreation: Hawaii (5.8%) Vermont (5.2%) Montana (4.7%) and Florida (4.4%.) Maine tied Wyoming at 4.2%
The rest of the Rocky Mountain region was similarly impacted: Utah at 3.3%, Colorado at 3.1%, Idaho at 3.0%, and South Dakota at 2.5%.
Outdoor recreation activities fall into three general categories: conventional activities (including activities such as bicycling, boating, hiking, and hunting); other core activities (such as gardening and outdoor concerts); and supporting activities (such as construction, travel and tourism, local trips, and government expenditures.)
Outdoor Recreation Value Added to Wyoming in 2019 – $1,686,585,000
Conventional Outdoor Recreation Activities – $474,506,000
Boating & Fishing – $43,148,000
RVing – $76,116,000
Snow Activities – $147,491,000
Other Outdoor Recreation Activities – $133,538,000
Amusement & Water Parks – $5,020,000
Festivals, Sporting Events, & Concerts – $3,839,000
Game Areas (including Golf and Tennis) – $40,874,000
All Other Supporting Outdoor Recreation – $927,398,000
Government Expenditures: $151,143,000
The three highest contributors in Wyoming were largely unqualified and didn’t fill into the more specific categories laid out by the BEA.
Historically, Wyoming’s top contributing recreation activities are:
- Various snow activities (like snowmobiling and skiing)
- Hunting, shooting, & trapping
- Boating & fishing
Boating and fishing were the largest contributors nationally, generating $23 billion dollars on their own. RVing came in second with $18.6 billion, followed by hunting & shooting – $9.4 billion.
Snow activities were – individually -the largest Wyoming contributor with $147.5 million. While massive, that number pales in comparison to what Colorado earned – $1.7 billion. Utah made $666.3 million from snow activities, followed by Vermont with $289.9 million.
By comparison, snow activities were the sixth largest national contributor.
But wait, there’s more!
In 2019, the outdoor recreation industry also accounted for over 21 thousand jobs in Wyoming, mainly thru private businesses, hotels and lodging, and food services that directly or indirectly catered to outdoor recreation.
The trends are clear when compared to historic data – more people and more money are flowing into Wyoming’s coffers thanks to the outdoor recreation industry.
2020 will undoubtedly throw a wrench into this otherwise steady growth, but those results will be potentially revealing in a year’s time. Both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks saw record numbers for August, September, and October this year despite a delayed opening and COVID-19.
Only time will tell – and time is looking promising and lucrative for Wyoming.