Investing in Overdue Maintenance at National Parks Could Generate 100,000 Jobs

Every region of U.S. would see benefits of addressing the almost $12 billion backlog

Navigate to:

Investing in Overdue Maintenance at National Parks Could Generate 100,000 Jobs

Addressing the National Park Service’s (NPS’) nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog would create or support more than 100,000 infrastructure-related jobs, a Pew-commissioned analysis by the Cadmus Group found. This number, based on fiscal year 2018 NPS data, is a reminder of the powerful contribution that national parks make to the U.S. economy. 

The jobs and benefits that would result from fully funding NPS’ deferred maintenance include construction workers repairing roads, preservation experts restoring deteriorating historic sites, and engineers overhauling outdated sewer, water, fire prevention, and electrical systems that can threaten visitor safety and drain park resources.

The analysis, “Restoring Parks, Creating Jobs: How Infrastructure Restoration in the National Park System Can Create or Support Jobs,” contains a state-by-state breakdown that projects the number of jobs that could be created or supported if NPS’ repair backlog is addressed. The analysis found that states with higher unemployment rates could gain the most and that the potential job benefit would be about equally split between metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas.

The interactive below shows how many jobs could be generated in states and territories, as well as the current number of jobs that parks support, the number of visits, and visitor spending (based on 2018 NPS data). Although the maintenance backlog rose from $11.6 billion in fiscal 2017 to almost $12 billion in fiscal 2018, the number of jobs projected from full funding of the maintenance backlog declined from 109,498 to 108,364. This was due to an uptick in inflation and a potential increase in the cost per job.

You can also view Pew-commissioned analyses and interactives based on data from fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017.


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

Territory Potential jobs Current jobs supported by visitor spending Visits Visitor spending (millions) Economic output (millions)
American Samoa 12 19 28,625 $1.7 $2.2
Guam 45 257 387,855 $22.9 $29.4
Puerto Rico 365 603 910,405 $53.8 $69.0
Virgin Islands 421 283 256,076 $24.9 $33.5

Notes: Delaware and the Northern Mariana Islands do not have any National Park System units that collect visitor spending data. Dollar figures are in millions.

Sources: Cadmus Group analysis of National Park Service data from fiscal 2018; National Park Service, “2018 National Park Visitor Spending Effects” (2018),

For more information, please see the methodology or view the Cadmus Group’s report, “Restoring Parks, Creating Jobs: How Infrastructure Restoration in the National Park System Can Create or Support Jobs” (2019). 

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.