The U.S. Senate passed the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act that will ensure the outdoor recreation economy be counted as part of the national gross domestic product (GDP).
The bill, introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) passed unanimously on Monday, Nov. 28, and will now go to President Obama to sign before the end of the year.
“Outdoor Industry Association and the thousands of manufacturers, retailers and service providers in the outdoor recreation industry know about the hundreds of millions of dollars our industry contributes to the U.S. economy and the millions of jobs our businesses support,” said OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts. “Today’s Senate passage of the REC Act shows that Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress understand that as well.”
According to the OIA, outdoor recreation accounts for $646 billion in consumer spending, 6.1 million American jobs, $80 billion in federal state and local tax revenue and other significant economic activity across the country.
“The outdoor recreation sector is a critical component of both the New Hampshire and national economy, and I am glad to see Congress recognizing its importance by passing this bill,” Shaheen said. “In the Granite State, we know that preserving our natural treasures isn’t just good for the environment, it’s also a smart move for state and local economies.”
The bill’s signage by the president would be groundbreaking for thousands of outdoor businesses across the country, including the hunting, skiing and surfing industries.
The OIA believes these activities and others will likely be quantified by the federal government with data published in an annual report on their economic impact.
They expect a report to be public by the end of 2018, officially certifying and recognizing outdoor recreation as a sector of the economy.
The official government data expects to provide better tools for elected officials, enabling them to make more informed policy decisions and to have a better understanding of the role the outdoor industry has on the nation’s overall economic health.
“Policymakers need to see the full picture of the role that outdoor recreation plays in supporting jobs and economic growth — and craft policy accordingly,” Shaheen said. “I am grateful to Senator Gardner, Commerce Committee Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson for their work to move this legislation forward and to Representatives Beyer, Reichert, Welch and McMorris for their efforts in the House.”
Gardner said outdoor recreation is a cornerstone of the economy in Colorado, yet its true economic impact from the federal government’s perspective remains unknown.
“This legislation will educate policymakers on the outdoor recreation industry’s contribution to our economy, including the number of jobs it’s responsible for and the amount of consumer spending it generates,” he said. “It’s a common-sense, bipartisan bill, and I look forward to President Obama signing it into law.”