A Look at Regional Trends
While there is wide variation within each region of the country, it can be helpful to break down the results of the survey using geographic distinctions. Some types of facilities, and some types of amenities are more prevalent in one region vs. another, and budgets and construction costs, in particular, can vary widely depending on the geography represented.
The regional distribution of the 2,100-plus respondents to the Industry Report survey is slightly different from the population distribution, according to the most recent U.S. Census, with the greatest variation found in the percentage of respondents from the Midwest.
According to the U.S. Census, 17.9 percent of the population is located in the Northeast, 21.7 percent in the Midwest, 19.4 percent in the South Atlantic states, 17.7 percent in the South Central region, and 23.3 percent in the West. In the 2016 survey, 17.6 percent of respondents are located in the Northeast, 31.2 percent in the Midwest, 16.8 percent in the South Atlantic states, 12.1 percent in the South Central region, and 21.4 percent in the West. Some 1 percent of respondents were located outside of the United States.
Respondents from the South Atlantic and South Central regions were the most likely to be from urban communities. More than one-quarter (27.3 percent) of South Atlantic respondents, and 24.1 percent of South Central respondents were from urban communities. They were followed by those from the West (20.6 percent of whom were from urban areas) and the Midwest (19.3 percent). Respondents from the Northeast were the least likely to be located in urban communities (15 percent).
Respondents from the Northeast and the South Atlantic region were more likely than other regions to be located in suburban communities. Well over half (57.4 percent) of Northeastern respondents and 48.6 percent of South Atlantic respondents said they were from the suburbs. They were followed by those in the West (44.6 percent) and the Midwest (40.1 percent). Respondents in the South Central region were least likely to be from suburban communities (38.3 percent).
Midwestern and Northeastern respondents were more likely than others to be from rural communities. Some 40.7 percent of those in the Midwest and 38 percent from the Northeast said they were located in rural areas. They were followed by the South Central region (37.5 percent) and the West (34.8 percent). Respondents from the South Atlantic states were least likely to be from rural communities (37.5 percent).
Given the fact that some regions are more heavily representative of rural or suburban communities, it should come as no surprise that there is a wide variation in the average population size for each region. The largest average populations were found among those from the South Atlantic and South Central regions, with the smallest populations served in the Northeast and Midwest. South Atlantic respondents served an average of 108,000 people, while those in the South Central region served 101,300. They were followed by the West, with an average population served of 92,700. Northeastern respondents served an average of 65,900 people, while those in the Midwest served an average of 65,500.
Likewise, those in the Midwest and Northeast were much more likely to report that they served a population of less than 30,000 people, with 69 percent of Northeastern and 62.8 percent of Midwestern respondents indicating that the average population size served by their facilities was less than 30,000 people. This compares with 49.2 percent in the West, 48.6 percent in the South Central states, and 45.7 percent in the South Atlantic region.
Respondents from the South Central and South Atlantic region were more likely than others to report that their average population size was more than 100,000 people, with 25.7 percent of South Central respondents and 25.6 percent of South Atlantic respondents reporting that they served 100,000 or more. They were followed by the West, where 23.9 percent had a population of 100,000 or more. Just 14.3 percent of Midwestern respondents and 12.6 percent of Northeastern respondents said they served a population of more than 100,000.