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Apparently We Aren’t As Outdoorsy As We Thought In Minnesota And Wisconsin

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Folks in Minnesota and Wisconsin pride themselves in being huge outdoor enthusiasts. Ask anyone around here what they enjoy doing, and they’re likely to say something related to the outdoors. Heck, a lot of the tourism in our region is tied to outdoor activities. That should make us the two of the most ourdoorsy states in the country, right? Apparently not. 

Outdoor equipment and activity website All Things Waterproof ranked how outdoorsy each state in the country is, and Minnesota and Wisconsin aren’t nearly where I would have guessed them to be. The statistical data they used to justify their findings came from the 2017 National Recreation Economy Report from the Outdoor Industry Association. This report analyzes interest and spending on outdoor activities ranging from camping, hunting/fishing to motorcycling and offroading, and including things like water and snow sports.

Their findings on a national scale show that the most popular activity is camping, followed by fishing, hunting, and motorcycle riding. The overall outdoor industry around the country is a $887 billion industry, ranking way ahead of pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, and the gasoline/fuel industries.

The breakdown of this data from All Things Waterproof shows Alaska and Montana essentially tied as the most outdoorsy state in the country, with 81% of the residents of each state participating in some form of outdoor recreation. Idaho, North Dakota, and Wyoming round out the top 5.

Minnesota comes in at 11 on this list of residents that participate in outdoor activities, in a near-virtual tie with 10th place Maine. While that isn’t too bad, I would have guessed the North Star State’s outdoor prowess would have landed us much closer to the top – definitely above a state like Utah (which is #6). Wisconsin shows up at 17th in the country, which again isn’t bad, but is way behind where I would have guessed the Badger State to land.

Economically, outdoor activities are huge for each state. Statisitical Data from the Outdoor Industry Association shows Wisconsin’s outdoor economy is a $17.9 billion industry in consumer spending with 168,000 jobs tied directly to this area of the economy and $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue generated from outdoor recreation.

As the Wisconsin report from the Outdoor Industry Association points out, the outdoor industry has more than double the jobs tied directly to this area than that of the dairy industry, which is Wisconsin’s most iconic industry. When it comes to what activities are among favorites in Wisconsin, fishing and sightseeing tend to be more popular in the Badger State compared to elsewhere in the country.

Minnesota’s consumer spending on outdoor activities comes in at $16.7 billion with $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue being generated. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has 140,000 jobs tied directly to the outdoor industry with $4.5 billion in wages in salaries for those working in this field. That works out to about $32,140 per year for the average employee in this industry in Minnesota. That salary is slightly higher than that of a Wisconsin employee in the outdoor industry, which averages about $30,350 per year.

As Minnesota’ report from the Outdoor Industry Association illustrates, the outdoor industry provides more direct jobs than the hospital and health industry in Minnesota, which is another sizable job sector in the state. When it comes to what Minnesotans enjoy doing most, sightseeing by boat and fishing tend to be more popular in the Gopher State than in other states (which I can’t say is too surprising, considering our notoriety of having so many bodies of water to enjoy).

As a resident of the Twin Ports and lifelong Minnesotan, I have to say I’m a bit disappointed both Minnesota and Wisconsin fall behind North Dakota in general outdoorsiness, but it is still clearly a massive part of both of our great (and much more forested and lake-dotted) states.

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