AUGUSTA, Maine – The Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has released data indicating the impact outdoor recreation had on each states’ economy in 2021. According to the BEA Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, which measures the economic activity as well as the sales generated by outdoor recreation, Maine's outdoor recreation industry made up 3.6% percent of the state’s economy, ranking it in the top five amongst all states.
In Maine, outdoor recreation generated $2.8 billion dollars in economic output, comprising 4.9% of Maine employees and more than 31,000 jobs. There was a 15.6% increase in outdoor recreation employment over 2020 and the overall outdoor recreation economy in Maine grew 19.3%.
This is the fifth consecutive year that BEA has released government data on this critical industry sector. Today’s release shows how the outdoor industry, which played a vital economic and social role throughout the pandemic, has since sustained remarkable growth and continued to bolster the state’s economy. Highlights from 2021 data on the outdoor recreation economy include:
- Outdoor recreation made up 3.6% of Maine’s economy – making Maine one of the top five states in the country in the value outdoor recreation added to statewide GDP.
- Manufacturing of outdoor recreation gear and equipment contributed $348 million to Maine’s economy in 2021, a 21% increase over 2020.
- Guiding and outfitting increased 43% in 2021, rebounding from a significant drop in 2020.
- Canoeing/kayaking increased 69% from the previous year in the value added to Maine’s economy.
“The BEA data underscores that outdoor recreation is vital to the economic well-being of our state,” said Jenny Kordick, Executive Director of Maine Outdoor Brands. “The world class outdoor recreation opportunities in Maine are a powerful lure for residents and visitors alike and support a booming outdoor industry. With continued investment, the outdoor sector can drive an environmentally responsible economy, one that offers good-paying jobs and an unmatched quality of life.”
Since the pandemic began, the outdoors has been more important than ever, with many people turning to outdoor recreation for the first time and even moving to Maine because of the outdoor lifestyle here. Certain outdoor recreation segments continue to see tremendous growth. The value added from conventional outdoor recreation activities like fishing, bicycling, camping, skiing, and hiking increased in 2021. Manufacturing of outdoor gear and equipment also saw a big increase in Maine.
"From the perspective of an outdoor recreation business that serves residents and visitors, I can attest to the growth in the outdoor industry and the value people place on outdoor experiences. Having the data behind what we are seeing allows us to make smart decisions on investment and growth for our business and the local economy. Throughout Maine, the outdoor economy has a positive impact on the prosperity of our communities,” said Matthew Polstein, owner of Millinocket-based New England Outdoor Center.
“This year’s data from BEA demonstrates the importance of the outdoor recreation sector and how it is a consistent economic driver,” said Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation Director Carolann Ouellette. “We are fortunate to live in a state with an abundance of natural assets, innovative outdoor-related businesses, and the commitment of the Mills Administration to value and leverage our outdoor heritage to strengthen our economy.”
Maine Outdoor Brands and the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation hosted the first outdoor economy summit in October, bringing together more than 250 leaders from Maine’s outdoor industry representing businesses, state governments and nonprofits.