While Participation In Snowmobiling Has Leveled Off, It Still Substantially Benefits Utah’s Economy

December 2017 Feature

(ED—SnoWest Magazine will go into more depth and dig into the numbers presented in this study. There is a lot of information in the study that merits mention. Perhaps one reason participation isn’t keeping pace with the rapid increase in population in Utah is the poor snow conditions in recent years. We think it would have been an interesting graph to snow the average snowfall over the past few years in Utah.)

While Utah’s population is steadily rising, the number of people who participate in snowmobiling is not, according to a new economic report released by the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at Utah State University.

The number of registered snowmobile owners within the state has not kept pace with population growth over the past two decades, suggesting that either snowmobiling is declining in popularity, or as aging snowmobilers quit the activity, they are not being replaced by younger riders.

As of February 2017, there were just more than 11,000 households in Utah reporting snowmobile ownership. Two decades earlier, in 1998, that number was more than 13,000. Although this research can’t point to the reason for the slowed growth, given that the state’s population has increased by 77 percent over this period, the analysis did show that the average age of registered snowmobilers in 2017 is now 54 years old, 11 years older than the previous study.

But snowmobilers are not yet an endangered species—snowmobiling activity contributes substantially to Utah’s economy. Snowmobiling accounted for 1,378 Utah jobs and $59.9 million in labor income in 2016. It spurred $138.2 million in local industry sales and $88.4 million in value added to the state’s economy. In 2016 alone, more than $13 million in state and local tax revenues were generated by snowmobiling activity.

The economic impacts of snowmobiling in Utah are concentrated in relatively few counties, primarily those with the largest concentrations of snowmobile owners and those with the most heavily visited destinations. Salt Lake, Summit, Utah, Wasatch and Weber counties collectively benefit substantially more than the rest of the state as a whole. These findings are not surprising given both that Utah’s population is highly concentrated along the Wasatch Front, and that there are relatively few heavily visited snowmobile destinations throughout the state.

And while snowmobiling has a substantial impact on Utah’s economy, those impacts occur within only a few economic sectors. Nearly half (43 percent) of the jobs created and 55 percent of the labor income generated by snowmobiling occurred in vehicle and parts sales. Another 8 percent of jobs and 5 percent of the labor income accrue from gasoline sales. These two sectors capture most of the value generated by snowmobiling. Additionally, more than 40 percent of local sales related to snowmobiling happens in motor vehicle and parts. This finding is consistent with other economic impact studies of snowmobiling in the western US. 

Quick Facts: Economic Impact of Snowmobiling in Utah 
Supports 1,378 jobs 
$138.2 million in local sales
$88.4 million in value added 
$59.9 million in labor income
$13 million in state and local tax revenue 
Smith, J. W., & Lamborn, C. C. (2018). The Economic Impact of Snowmobiling in
Utah. Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, Utah State University: Logan, Utahhttp://extension.usu.edu/iort/ou-files/Snowmobiling_Report.pdf 

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