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Outdoor economy contributed $2.4 billion to state’s economy


New Mexico’s outdoor economy contributed $2.4 billion (2.2 percent) to the state's gross domestic product in 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said in a report issued by the New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD).

The report showed that the industry provided 35,065 jobs in New Mexico, with $1.2 billion in total income.

At the national level, the data shows that the outdoor recreation economy accounted for $459.8 billion (2.1 percent) of U.S. GDP in 2019.

Here are highlights from the report:

  • New Mexico’s outdoor recreation economy growth – 5.9 percent since 2018 – is outpacing the national growth -- 3.7 percent.
  • Employment in the industry is expanding much faster in New Mexico than nationally. Since 2018, the number of outdoor recreation jobs in the state has grown by 5.3 percent, compared 0.4 percent growth nationally.
  • Since 2018, outdoor recreation income has grown 7.6 percent in New Mexico, compared with an increase of 3.9 percent for the U.S.
  • In 2019, RVing, equestrian and snow sports were the top three contributors to New Mexico’s outdoor economy, followed closely by boating and fishing.

“We know the outdoor economy is a powerhouse in New Mexico, employing more than 35,000 people annually,” New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division (ORD) Director Axie Navas said.

ORD was created July 1, 2019, as NMEDD’s sixth division. Legislation creating the department was sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Doña Ana, and co-sponsored by state Reps. Nathan Small and Angelica Rubio.

“As is clear from this new report, New Mexico has a great opportunity to grow our reputation and jobs as a top outdoor recreation destination in the country,” Steinborn said. “Locally, we are very well positioned to make outdoor recreation a much bigger part of our economy by promoting our nearby national monuments and parks, the Rio Grande Trail and incredible recreational opportunities like the Monumental Loop Bikepacking Trail. The New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division will be an essential partner to help us protect and promote these assets.”

The division’s multi-faceted mission mandates that nearly a dozen governmental entities work together to create jobs and promote public health, conservation and “preservation of New Mexico’s special places,” Steinborn said in 2019. He said it will help cities, counties and tribes across the state improve, promote and preserve their “great public lands and national amenities for people to enjoy.”

“The COVID-19 health crisis has hurt many of our businesses in this space – a fact not captured in this new tranche of data,” Navas said. “It’s our job to aid in the recovery of the outdoor industry, so it continues to be a vibrant economic engine in the state.”

Earlier this year, ORD surveyed 128 outdoor recreation businesses in New Mexico. More than 90 percent of respondents said they had lost revenue and/or hadn’t been able to cover basic expenses due to the pandemic-induced economic crisis. Almost 78 percent of respondents are small, local companies with fewer than 15 employees.

For more information, visit www.bea.gov/news/2020/outdoor-recreation-satellite-account-us-and-states-2019, https://apps.bea.gov/data/special-topics/orsa/summary-sheets/ORSA%20-%20New%20Mexico.pdf and www.nmoutside.com/covid19-response.