May 04, 2018

Study Shows Economic Impact of Local Parks

Parks Power the Economy

GameTime has long been an advocate for local parks and recreation spaces. They are gathering places for families and provide areas for people to exercise, play and connect with nature. Parks offer significant value to communities. They stimulate the local economy, provide opportunities to achieve better health and wellness, and promote social equity. 

Recently, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) issued a report on the economic impact of local parks. The findings were very encouraging. In a single year, America's local parks and recreation agencies:

  • generated $154 billion in economic activity
  • added $81 billion in value
  • created more than 1.1 million jobs
  • boosted labor income by $55 billion

More specifically, operations spending by local park and recreation agencies generated nearly $91 billion in total economic activity. That activity boosted real gross domestic product (GDP) by $49 billion and supported more than 732,000 jobs that accounted for nearly $34 billion in salaries, wages and benefits across the nation.

Local park and recreation agencies also invested an estimated $23 billion on capital programs in 2015. The capital spending led to an additional $64 billion in economic activity, a contribution of $32 billion to GDP, $21 billion in labor-related income and nearly 378,000 jobs.

Sources associated with the study posted on the NRPA website, "Policymakers and elected officials at all levels of government should take notice. Investments made to local and regional parks not only raise the standard of living in our neighborhoods, towns and cities, but they also spark activity that can ripple throughout the economy."

You can download a copy of the Executive Summary Report or visit NRPA for more information.

About the NRPA Study

In 2015, NRPA joined forces with the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University to estimate the impact of spending by local park and recreation agencies on the U.S. economy. Until then, there had been no national study to estimate the economic contribution of the thousands of local park and recreation agencies throughout the nation to the U.S. economy. Read a more thorough, technical discussion of the study here.

NRPA and the Center for Regional Analysis joined forces again in 2018 to update the landmark 2015 study. Both the 2015 and 2018 studies focused exclusively on the direct, indirect and induced effects local park and recreation agencies’ spending has on economic activity, with analysis based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Read a more thorough, technical discussion of the study here.