Feature Article - June 2015
Find a printable version here

Regional Information

A Look at Regional Trends


Respondents in the South Central region reported the highest average operating expenditure of all respondents for fiscal 2014, with an average of $2,014,000, 12.7 percent higher than the average for all respondents of $1,787,000. Respondents in the West also reported average operating expenditures that were higher than the across-the-board average. For those in the West, the average of $1,863,000 was 4.3 percent higher than the average for all respondents. The lowest operating expenditures were seen among respondents in the Northeast, with an average of $1,613,000, 9.7 percent lower than the average for all respondents. (See Figure 31.)


All regions reported an increase in average operating expenditures from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014. Further, all regions report increases to average operating expenditures between 2014 and 2016.

The greatest increase from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014 was seen among respondents in the Midwest, who reported a 36.9 percent increase. They were followed by the South Central region with an increase of 29.7 percent, and the Northeast, with an increase of 25.3 percent. The smallest increase was seen in the South Atlantic states, though these respondents did report a 10.7 percent increase to average operating expenditures.

From fiscal 2014 to fiscal 2016, the greatest overall increase in average operating expenditures is expected among respondents in the Northeast, who projected a 14 percent increase. More modest increases were projected in other regions, led by the West, with an increase of 5 percent, and followed by the South Atlantic region, at 4.4 percent, and the South Central region at 4.3 percent. Midwestern respondents projected the smallest increase from 2014 to 2016, of 2.8 percent.

A substantial majority in all regions reported that they had taken actions to reduce their operating expenditures. As was the case in 2014, respondents in 2015 from the West and the Northeast were the most likely to report that they had taken such actions, while those in the South Central region were the least likely to have taken action to reduce expenditures. Some 88.3 percent of Western respondents (up from 85.4 percent in 2014) and 86.6 percent of Northeastern respondents (up from 85.5 percent in 2014) said they had taken such actions. They were followed by those in the Midwest, 84.7 percent of whom had taken actions to reduce expenditures (up from 83.6 percent in 2014); and by those in the South Atlantic, 81.3 percent of whom had taken such actions (down from 83 percent in 2014). Finally, some 78.1 percent of South Central respondents reported that they had taken action to reduce their expenditures, down from 79.3 percent in 2014.

Respondents in the West were the most likely to report that they had improved energy efficiency (56.1 percent), cut programming or services (22.7 percent) or closed facilities altogether (8.2 percent) in order to reduce their operating expenses. Those in the Northeast were the most likely to report that they had increased fees (48.1 percent) or reduced staffing levels (39.1 percent). Respondents in the Midwest were the most likely to report that they had reduced their hours of operation (20 percent) or shortened their season of operation by, for example, opening later in the season or closing sooner (10.1 percent). Respondents in the South Atlantic region were the most likely to indicate that they had put construction or renovation plans on hold (33.9 percent).