California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Economic Importance of Hunting

Economic data on hunting in the U.S. and California

This webpage was developed from the report of the same title for the IAFWA through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Cooperative Grant Agreement No. 14-48-98210-97-G047 using Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration administration funds.


Hunting is much more than a traditional American pastime. It creates more than 700,000 jobs nationwide. New studies now show that annual spending by America's 14 million hunters amounts to $22.1 billion. By comparison, and if hypothetically ranked as a "corporation," that revenue figure would put hunting in thirty-fifth place on the Fortune 500 list of America's largest businesses, right between J.C. Penney and United Parcel Service.

The impact of the American economy of all that spending is extraordinary. When the spending figure was "crunched" recently by economic analysts to account for "ripple" or economic multiplier effects, hunters' spending was shown to have:

  • Created a nationwide economic impact of about $61 billion.
  • Supported 704,600 million jobs, or nearly 1 percent of America's entire civilian labor force, in all sectors of the American economy. Created household income (salaries and wages) totaling 416.1 billion, which is roughly equivalent to 25 percent of America's entire military payroll.
  • Added $1.4 billion to state tax revenues, or nearly 1 percent of all annual state tax revenues combined.
  • Contributed $1.7 billion in federal income taxes, which equates to almost half of the entire federal budget for commerce.

Hunter spending increases. These 1996 spending figures were derived from the latest United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation, conducted every five years in conjunction with the U.S.Census Bureau. Economic analysts for the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA; through Southwick Associates, a resource-economics consulting firm) have then used computer models to determine the effects of that spending nationwide. This hunter-spending total increased by an amazing 78 percent in the five years since the last survey was completed in 1991, when the total was $12.4 billion.

When times are good, people spend money and 14 million of those people, or roughly one of every fifteen Americans age 16 and older, choose to spend a great deal of that money on hunting. Part of the increase, too, comes from more time spent in the field. American hunters spent 8 percent more time in the field during 1996 than in 1991, according to the USFWS survey.

Number of Hunters (CA - 1996)

Deer Migratory Bird Quail, Pheasant & Grouse Total Hunters
238,478 253,746 250,359 515,000


Days of Hunting (CA - 1996)

Deer Migratory Bird Quail, Pheasant & Grouse Total Hunters
2,055,650 2,741,881 2,090,962 8,491,140

While the spending figures are impressive by themselves, they become even more so through consideration of "ripple" or multiplier effects. This is basically the modern economist's way of saying that money is like manure because the more it's spread around the more good it does. Each dollar spent by a hunter increases another person's income, enabling that person (or business) to spend more, which in turn increases income for somebody else. The process continues as wide series of ripples through local regional, and national economies until the spreading fragments of the original dollar become so small they can no longer be measured.


US 1996 Hunting Economic Impacts

  Deer Migratory Birds Upland Game Bird (Quail, Pheasant, Grouse only) All Hunting
Retail Sales $10,324,904,373 $2,996,257,139 $1,895,704,348 $22,104,313,660
Multiplier Effect $27,858,958,706 $8,154,525,482 $4,903,780,081 $60,998,344,806
Salaries and Wages $7,200,082,463 $2,116,177,982 $1,201,073,493 $16,120,559,638
Jobs 331,904 95,748 55,546 704,601
State Sales Tax Revenues $581,054,859 $178,480,197 $128,803,838 $1,068,110,791
State Income Tax Revenues $148,594,333 $37,995,873 $22,524,049 $322,236,505
Fed. Income Tax Revenues $763,392,226 $216,155,138 $125,587,037 $1,725,812,994

Retail Sales Multiplier Effect Earnings Jobs Sales Tax State Income Tax Fed. Income Tax
$982,097,906 $2,100,374,184 $618,208,449 26,802 $59,844,553 $6,688,258 $66,398,026

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