The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released economic data for 2022 exhibiting outdoor recreation’s powerful and positive economic impact on the U.S. economy.

The outdoor recreation economy in New Mexico grew 1.8% from 2021 to 2022, according to the BEA. This year’s report also shows that outdoor recreation creates $2.4 billion in value added for New Mexico and accounts for 1.9% of state GDP, including nearly 28,000 jobs.

The BEA report shows 2022 as the largest recorded measure for outdoor recreation contribution to GDP and outdoor recreation compensation in New Mexico since the BEA started calculating the size of the outdoor recreation economy in 2012.

“The BEA data validates the ongoing efforts of New Mexico’s Outdoor Recreation Division to create jobs through the Trails+ grant program, support economic growth and offer equitable access to the outdoors through the first-of-its-kind Outdoor Equity Fund,” ORD Director Karina Armijo said. “Based on the data, we can affirm these outdoor recreation-focused programs benefit all New Mexicans and outdoor recreation businesses throughout the state.”

When Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham created the Outdoor Recreation Division in 2019, she also targeted the industry as a key driver to diversify New Mexico’s economy.

Since then, New Mexico’s ORD has invested $10 million in trails and infrastructure projects and awarded Outdoor Equity grants to 181 organizations so more than 58,000 youths can experience recreational activities.

“As the state continues to exceed previous years’ measurements of the outdoor recreation industry, it reinforces Gov. Lujan Grisham’s decision to identify the industry as a key
sector for our state economy,” Acting New Mexico Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Jon Clark said. “Every corner of our state benefits from the overall efforts to bolster access to the outdoors for all New Mexicans. The outdoor recreation industry is a consistent economic and jobs driver, even in times of economic uncertainty.”

At a national level, these new numbers show outdoor recreation generates $1.1 trillion in economic output (2.2% of GDP), comprises 3.2% of U.S. employees, and creates 5 million jobs. This means the outdoor recreation economy contributes more to the U.S. economy than farming, oil and gas extraction, mining and utilities.

Key highlights from the 2022 data on the outdoor recreation economy by activity:

  • New Mexico saw a 11.6% increase in 2022 year over year in total outdoor recreation activities.
  • Top core outdoor recreation activities include RVing, boating/fishing, snow activities, equestrian and motorcycling/ATVing.
  • The compound annual growth rate since 2019 has increased 1.5% overall, 5.9% in core OR activities (such as those listed above).
  • Total core OR activities accounted for $1.04 billion in value added, while supporting OR (construction, travel, tourism, government) accounted for $1.34 billion in value added.