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But despite jumps in participation, job loss during Covid topped 20%

Only eight other states got a larger share of their GDP from the outdoor industry in 2020.

The pandemic clobbered certain parts of the outdoor recreation industry in 2020, cutting its employment in New Hampshire by one-fifth, but even so, the industry contributed more to the economy of the Granite State than in most other states in the country.

That’s one conclusion from a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis study. It said the outdoor recreation industry — which it considers everything from amusement parks and outdoor concerts to fishing trips and RV’ing — contributed $2.2 billion to New Hampshire’s economy, about 2.6 percent of the gross domestic product in 2020, and employed over 26,500 people.

Only eight other states got a larger share of their GDP from the outdoor industry. Among those were Maine, where the tally was 3.3 percent, and Vermont, whose 3.7 percent was topped only by Hawaii and Montana.

Areas that boomed in New Hampshire in 2020 were those that could be enjoyed by individuals even while social distancing. It was led by boating and fishing, which rose a whopping 41 percent, and bicycling saw a hefty 14 percent increase.

Camping in an RV saw a 9 percent increase and off-road riding a 5 percent boost.

“Noteworthy is the productive output of the RV, boating and biking segments, which are likely harbingers of 2021 numbers. Going forward, the New Hampshire outdoor industry is mobilized and well positioned to improve its meaningful impact through workforce initiatives, community development, and making the outdoors accessible and welcoming to all,” said Tyler Ray of the industry group Granite Outdoor Alliance.

“Despite the global pandemic, New Hampshire’s outdoor recreation employers were still significant drivers of the state’s economy last year,” said BEA Commissioner Taylor Caswell.

Presumably because many of the increased activities require little or no interaction with a business, the number of jobs related to outdoor activities in New Hampshire fell sharply, declining more than 41 other states. Outdoor employment was down 20.7 percent in 2020, according to federal data, compared to a national decline of 17.1 percent. Vermont (26 percent) and Maine (24 percent) saw even sharper declines.

This article is being shared by partners in the Granite State News Collaborative. For more information,

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