A new study prepared for Airports Council International-North America finds that the airport industry drove $1.2 trillion in economic activity in 2010, which translates into 7% of U.S. GDP.

The study, prepared by consultancy CDM Smith, analyzed the 490 commercial airports in the U.S. to measure their economic impact in 2010, the latest year for which data are available. Airports directly employed 1.2 million people in 2010. Visitor spending supported an additional 3.6 million jobs, and construction work on capital improvement projects resulted in 72,000 jobs.

By factoring the multiplier effects on GDP from airport employment and jobs resulting from visitor spending, CDM Smith calculates that the U.S. airport industry is responsible for 10.5 million jobs. This results in an annual payroll of $365 billion. Based on these figures, the U.S. airport industry is responsible for 8% of GDP and 7% of all jobs, ACI-NA says.

“This analysis confirms that America’s airports are economic hubs that drive our local, state and national economies, both inside and outside the airport fence line,” says Greg Principato, ACI-NA president.

Compared with data from ACI-NA’s last economic impact study in 2001, airports generated 56% more jobs in 2010.

Airlines for America this week published its own estimate of the jobs that derive from the airline industry. A4A estimates that U.S. airlines drive $1 trillion in economic activity and more than 10 million jobs.