Potential for 100,000-Plus Jobs If We Fix Our Parks

Analysis of National Park Service data shows possible employment impact in every region

Potential for 100,000-Plus Jobs If We Fix Our Parks

Note: The most recent information can be found in the 2019 version of this report, which uses National Park Service fiscal year 2018 data. It can be found here.

A Pew-commissioned analysis by the Cadmus Group, a consulting company, found that addressing the National Park Service’s $11.6 billion maintenance backlog would create or support nearly 110,000 infrastructure-related jobs. This number, based on fiscal year 2017 NPS data, is a reminder of the powerful economic impact of national parks. 

California has the most to gain, with the potential for more than 17,000 jobs. Rural states also stand to benefit, with a possible 6,600 jobs in Wyoming. And Virginia, which has a mix of urban and rustic settings, could benefit from 9,600 jobs.  

If NPS’ deferred maintenance was fully funded, communities could see construction workers repairing roads and trails, preservation experts restoring deteriorating historic sites, and engineers overhauling outdated sewer, water, and electrical systems that can threaten safety and the environment.

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 finding that:

  • States with higher unemployment rates could gain the most.
  • The job benefit is about equally split between metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas.

This interactive map shows where potential jobs could be located as well as park visitation and visitor spending, based on fiscal 2017 NPS data. Although the maintenance backlog rose from $11.3 billion in fiscal 2016 to $11.6 billion in fiscal 2017, the job figure declined by 671 jobs, from 110,169 to 109,498. This was due to an uptick in inflation and a potential increase in the cost per job. To access a Pew-commissioned analysis and jobs interactive based on NPS fiscal 2016 data, click on this link.

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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 9 51 69,468 $4.0 $5.2
Guam 46 273 384,611 $22.0 $28.7
Puerto Rico 263 850 1,188,780 $68.0 $88.7
Virgin Islands 360 664 444,838 $50.6 $71.7

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 2017; National Park Service, “2017 National Park Visitor Spending Effects” (2018), https://www.nps.gov/nature/customcf/NPS_Data_Visualization/docs/NPS_2017_Visitor_Spending_Effects.pdf.

For more information on this analysis, 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” (2018), https://cadmusgroup.com/papers-reports/restoring-parks-creating-jobs/

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