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Data bodes well for N.C. outdoor rec economy

Data bodes well for N.C. outdoor rec economy

Newly released economic data measuring the outdoor recreation industry’s impact on the U.S. economy shows that, despite ongoing economic challenges, the industry continues to be a powerful driver in North Carolina. 

This year’s report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, based on numbers from 2022, showed that the value-added impact of North Carolina’s outdoor recreation economy was the nation’s 11th largest, accounting for 2% of the state’s gross domestic product and 2.9% of its employment, responsible for more than 146,000 jobs.

In this, North Carolina lags slightly behind national figures. Nationwide, the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2% of GDP and 3.2% of wage and salary employment. State-level GDP share ranged from 5.9% in Hawaii to 1.4% in Connecticut, with Washington, D.C., coming in at 0.9%.

However, North Carolina’s numbers are slightly up from the 2021 report released last year, which showed the outdoor recreation industry accounting for 1.8% of North Carolina’s GDP and employing 2.7% of wage and salary earners.

“The latest data highlights that outdoor recreation and its supporting industries have an unwavering impact as an economic powerhouse in North Carolina,” said Amy Allison, director of the MADE X MTNS (Made By Mountains) Partnership. “By championing strategic investments in public lands and infrastructure, fostering outdoor-driven communities and providing support for the innovative endeavors of outdoor recreation businesses and entrepreneurs, we continue to bolster our region’s economy, while also laying the foundation for a thriving and resilient future.”

North Carolina has maintained its year-over-year strength in core outdoor recreation sectors, supported by an interconnected network of land management, economic development, entrepreneurial support, business alliances, conservation, tourism, user group advocacy and more. As access, opportunities, investment in greater equity and statewide outdoor investment have expanded, so have many outdoor recreational activities in their economic impact and participation. 

This is the sixth consecutive year this data has been released. See the full report at

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