Job Creation Potential If We Restore Our National Parks

Our national parks are American treasures. They not only preserve significant historical sites and natural resources, but they also are economic engines for local communities and states. In 2016, the centennial of the National Park Service (NPS) drew record crowds: 331 million visits. These visitors spent more than $18 billion in communities adjacent to parks, which in turn supported 318,150 jobs and nearly $35 billion in national economic output.  But many of our irreplaceable parks need repairs. As the NPS begins its second century, it is grappling with $11.3 billion in deferred maintenance at the more than 400 sites it manages. Roads are crumbling, trails are blocked, buildings are deteriorating, and water and sewer pipes are leaking. Years of inconsistent congressional funding have made it difficult for NPS to make all of the needed repairs, which means the agency has had to postpone less critical maintenance.

Paying down the repair backlog will help ensure that America’s parks continue to protect the nation’s history, expand recreational opportunities, and support local economies, including creating infrastructure-related jobs. A 2017 study—"Restoring Parks, Creating Jobs: How Infrastructure Restoration in the National Park System Can Create or Support Jobs," commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts and conducted by the independent firm Cadmus Group—found that more than 110,000 jobs could be created or supported if funds were invested to resolve the NPS maintenance backlog. This interactive map shows where those positions could be located and includes data on park visitation and visitor spending. 

Values for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands are not shown in this map.

Territory Potential jobs Current jobs supported by visitor spending Visits Visitor spending (millions) Economic output (millions)
American Samoa 8 21 28,893 $2 $2
Guam 62 356 488,987 $29 $35
Puerto Rico 180 1,065 1,456,552 $85 $104
Virgin Islands 239 903 582,167 $70 $93

Notes:

Delaware and the Northern Mariana Islands do not include any National Park System units that collect visitor spending data.

All $ figures are in millions

Source:

Cadmus Group analysis of National Park Service data from fiscal 2016; National Park Service, “2016 National Park Visitor Spending Effects” (2017), https://www.nps.gov/nature/customcf/NPS_Data_Visualization/docs/2016_VSE.pdf.

For more information on this analysis, please see the methodology or view  Cadmus Group’s report, “Restoring Parks, Creating Jobs: Infrastructure Restoration in the National Park System Can Create Jobs” (2017), http://insights.cadmusgroup.com/restoring-parks-creating-jobs


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