WOODS: Mississippi outdoors dollars

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There is no denying the economic impact of hunting. Here in Mississippi, whitetail deer hunting alone brings in nearly $650 million annually in retail sales, with a multiplier effect of $911 million.

What with the volatility of the American economic landscape amid assaults on Second Amendment rights, hunting, shooting and gun ownership, it makes one wonder if states are looking at the economic impacts of outdoors dollars to their state revenues? As some states sign into law more restrictions on private liberties and businesses alike, many outdoors companies are seeking more friendly spaces to produce their products.

To date, the AR magazine and accessory manufacturer Magpul is slated to move from Colorado. Beretta is awaiting the Maryland governor to sign anti-gun legislation before they announce relocation. In Connecticut PTR Industries is preparing to move leaving behind 50 high-tech jobs. Undoubtedly more will come.

Hopefully our job-seeker guys at MDA are fast at work seeking out these companies for a possible move to Mississippi. The Magnolia State is gun and hunting friendly — so far.

But perhaps is it time to refresh everyone’s memory of the economic impact of the various outdoor pursuits in this state. Even when I review the latest numbers here it is hard to imagine just how far reaching these sports and statewide outdoors industries add in terms of employment payrolls, marketing dollars and not to mention the various taxes they pay.

The American hunting payback

According to the latest available statistics from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ 2012 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation, there are 13.7 million hunters in America aged 16 and older. In 2011 they spent some $38.3 billion (with a “b”) on these pursuits. This is roughly $2800 per hunter on average. Keep in mind too that another two million hunters under the age of 16 also have gear and services bought for them by parents or others.

There are estimated to be 680,000+ jobs in outdoors hunting-related industries. All this has generated $11.8 billion in taxes. Quite a sum for sure. This data was compiled by Southwick Associates for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which tracks these trends on an annual basis across America and state by state.

The overall trend is definitely on the upward move. Since 2006 hunters’ expenditures have increased by 55 percent. The number of hunters in America has increased by 9 percent between 2006 and 2011. Hunters are passionate about their sport and will find a way to participate. Participation insures expenditures at many levels.

Mississippi numbers

According to the latest numbers, there are an estimated 483,162 hunters in Mississippi that pursue all types of hunting. Of that number an amazing 469,466 are deer hunters. Little wonder deer hunting is the No. 1 hunting sport here. Another 40,000 hunt migratory birds, which seems to be on the interest increase the past few years.

Participation by hunters in Mississippi is flat out unreal. Days spent hunting for all hunters is registered at 9,105,198. This is calculated based on how many days each hunter spends afield each annual season. Deer hunters spend about 7,206,754 man-days hunting and waterfowl hunters also spend 231,039 days. Keep in perspective that these are resident hunters. This does not count non-resident hunters, who also contribute heavily to money being spent inside the state each year.

The list of items upon which hunters spend their money is long. The basic list contains 43 spending categories on everything from food, refreshments, lodging, firearms, archery gear, ammunition, general hunting equipment, optics, processing and taxidermy costs, off-road vehicles-ATVs and such, land owned primarily for hunting, land leased primarily for hunting, plantings related to hunting and everything in between. Again the total expenditures exceed $38 billion, while deer hunters spend $18 billion nationwide. That’s each year.

Spending on hunting in Mississippi goes $1.3 billion on outdoor-related retail sales alone. The multiplier effect is estimated at $1,775,390,945. This is a factor of how original money spent is rolled over within the economy time and time again.

Salaries and wages paid within the outdoors industry in Mississippi were set at $497 million with 22,511 jobs related to hunting. Just hunting, too, this does not factor in fishing or other outdoor pursuits.

State and local taxes paid were calculated at $111,962,004. On top of that federal taxes paid equaled an additional $112,297,307. Big bucks don’t always come with antlers. These are impressive numbers given up to state and federal governments to spend.

Now let’s run some Mississippi numbers for deer hunting alone. How about $643,295,510 spent on retail sales. The multiplier effect is $911 million. Payroll is $287 million for 15,018 jobs related to deer hunting by itself. State and local taxes were $65,325,299 and federal taxes paid were $65,809,693. That’s $65 million into state tax coffers. Get any ideas about how important deer hunting is to this state just from a jobs, revenue and taxes standpoint?

Migratory bird hunting adds another $49 million in retail sales with $22 million in salaries and wages for 969 jobs. State and federal taxes are slightly over $5 million each.

Now, just in case you wanted to know, 650,000 anglers in the state adds another $902 million in retail sales. Some 11,000 jobs generate a payroll of $349 million. Taxes paid are about $74 million each for state and federal. And it’s correct, there are more people fishing in this state than hunting, but together the impact is immense.

The outdoors industry is a big deal in this country, and a huge deal in Mississippi. It takes money to make money, but hunters and anglers are certainly doing their part. Let’s just hope our state government doesn’t forget this and continues to support our freedoms to pursue our hunting heritage.

John J. Woods, Ph.D., is vice president in charge of economic development and training, Eagle Ridge Conference and Training Center, the Workforce Development Center and contract training services at Hinds Community College in Raymond.

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