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Recreational Data in FRED

Using BLS data to track fun, 2007-2019

The FRED Blog has discussed the growing share of personal spending on recreation. But where, precisely, are households spending their leisure time?

FRED data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Industry Productivity release can show us a few things: The FRED graph above plots inflation-adjusted business activity, or real output, for five different industries in the amusement, gambling, and recreation industry subsector. The BLS reports output as an index value, which is set at 100 in 2007; so, the slopes of the lines represent the rate of output growth in each industry relative to that year.

  • Amusement park and arcade output (dark blue line) was a bit of a rollercoaster ride: Output decreased 23% between 2007 and 2010, but had mostly bounced back by 2019.
  • Bowling alley output (red line) also contracted between 2007 and 2010. But rather than heading straight into the gutter, it hit a strike during the past decade: 2019 output was almost 4% above its 2007 value.
  • Gambling industry output (purple line) seems to lend credence to the claim that “the house always wins” (in the long run, anyway). For almost a decade, output was consistently below its 2007 value—by an average well above 9%. But output grew between 2018 and 2019.
  • Golf course and country club output (light blue line) has been consistently under par—by an average of 7%—for the whole 2007-2019 time period.
  • Fitness and recreational sports center output (orange line) was almost all gain and no pain: Despite a minor slowdown during the 2007-2009 recession, business activity at establishments ranging from gyms to swimming pools pumped up with remarkable growth of 56% from 2007 to 2019.

Keep tabs on the FRED Blog, as we’ll discuss the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic to the recreation industry when data for 2020 become available.

How this graph was created: Search FRED for “Output for Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: Fitness and Recreational Sports Centers.” From the “Edit Graph” panel, use the “Add Line” tab to search for and select” Output for Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: Amusement and Theme Parks.” Repeat the process to add the remining three series in the graph. Use the menus in the “Format” tab to pick line colors and mark types. Change the start date of the graph to “2007-01-01.” Enjoy!

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

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