We’re all deeply connected to our own lake communities. Whether we’re a homeowner or a business owner, the boating industry is often the thread that binds our lake communities together. 

While we each have a local perspective on our lake recreation and enjoyment, the boating industry is larger than you may expect.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association provides industry statistics that can give all of us boat owners a certain sense of pride and a certain perspective on the boating industry.

Consider these statistics: (all sourced to the NMMA).

  • There are 17 Million recreational boats currently in use in the US.
  • One in 10 US Households owns a boat.
  • Annual US Consumer spending on boats, marine products and services totaled $36 Billion in 2016.
  • Sales of new powerboats in 2017 measured 260,000 units.
  • 141 Million Americans go boating each year. (43% of total US Population)

On a regional level, we can find numbers that we can process a little more easily. These numbers are based on a variety of sources, including everything from State National Resource Departments to local residential realtors.

  • Lake Okoboji hosts over 1,200 homes with a boat dock.
  • Lake of the Ozarks hosts over 35,000 homes with a boat dock.
  • Minnesota officially recognizes 11,842 lakes within its borders.
  • Wisconsin officially recognizes 11,981 lakes within its borders.
  • Minnesota lakes are cumulatively twice as large as those in Wisconsin. 

Sticking with a regional theme, here is a list of how many registered boats reside in certain midwestern states. (Compiled by Statistical Surveys, Inc.).

  • Michigan 1,000,337
  • Minnesota 834,974
  • Wisconsin 650,280
  • Ohio 413,276
  • Illinois 398,431
  • Missouri 325,717

Now, let’s take a quick look at the top 20 states and the total number of boats registered in each. (Compiled by Statistical Surveys, Inc.). 

  1. California 1,051,606
  2. Michigan 1,000,337
  3. Florida 922,597
  4. Minnesota 834,974
  5. Wisconsin 650,280
  6. Texas 624,390
  7. New York 529,732 
  8. Ohio 413,276 
  9. Illinois 398,431 
  10. South Carolina 383,971 
  11. Pennsylvania 357,729 
  12. North Carolina 353,625 
  13. Louisiana 327,272 
  14. Missouri 325,717 
  15. Georgia 325,135 
  16. Washington 266,717 
  17. Alabama 264,191 
  18. Tennessee 259,235 
  19. Virginia 243,590 
  20. Mississippi 199,037

It should be noted that these figures date back to 2002.
We’re all part of a massive boating family that reaches from coast to coast. Join the party, get out and enjoy the water, and love your boat.

October 06, 2021 — Tom Baker