Outdoor Recreation Worth $650,000,000,000

The American Public Radio program "Marketplace" recently reported on figures from the Outdoor Industry Association that indicate the outdoor recreation industry accounts for a sum-total 646-billion-dollar economic footprint in this country.

To put that figure into perspective, OIA's I Ling Thompson notes that "Americans spent more money on outdoor recreation than they [do] on pharmaceuticals, on motor vehicles, and on household utilities every year."

A significant portion of that money went towards gear and equipment, but peripheral spending related to getting outside and using it—think: guides, hotels, restaurants—accounts for the lion's share of the estimate.

Another interesting note: It appears the outdoor industry is relatively recession-proof, having averaged 5 percent growth per year from 2006 to 2011.

In addition to the more than half-trillion dollars in direct consumer spending, the OIA report says that outdoor recreation creates 6.1 million jobs, and produces $80 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue annually.