In a report issued Nov. 10, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis released a report on the effect outdoor recreation has on the economy. According to the report, outdoor recreation made up 2.1 percent — $459.8 billion — of the national Gross Domestic Product in 2019. In Colorado, outdoor recreation accounted for 3.1 percent — $12.2 billion — of the state's GDP. It did that by providing 149,140 jobs, or about 3.8 percent of all the jobs in the state, and $6.4 billion in compensation, which amounts to 2.9 percent of all the compensation in Colorado.
When broken down by categories of outdoor recreation, Colorado's share of GDP attributable to "snow activities" lead all other states at $1.7 billion, and Colorado ranked 8th nationwide in both the bicycling and climbing/hiking/tent camping categories, the next two highest-ranking categories in the state. Overall, Colorado's outdoor recreation portion of its GDP is a full percentage point above the national average, and 10th overall, with Hawaii leading all states (5.8 percent of its GDP is attributable to outdoor recreation).
While 2019 was only the third year that the BEA measured the effect outdoor recreation has on national and state GDPs, it shows significant increases over the last three years, and the Outdoor Industry Association expects 2020's numbers to be even higher, with more people taking on outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 crisis.
Overall, retail trade was the second largest category contributing to outdoor recreation's part of the national GDP. As more people take up outdoor recreation, the number of hiking boots, skis, bicycles and other gear they've purchased has increased.
While buying gear online has been the norm for many people, often to avoid paying sales tax, it should be noted that the State of Colorado, the City of Colorado Springs, and El Paso County now all collect sales tax on all online purchases. With that in mind, you might as well shop locally.
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