Feature Article - June 2016
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Regional Information

A Look at Regional Trends


Budgets & Utilization

When it comes to the number of people using their facilities, respondents from the South Central, South Atlantic and Western regions were the most likely to report increases in the years covered by the survey, a trend that has held steady over many years, and coincides with broader population trends, wherein more people are moving into these regions.

From 2014 to 2015, South Central respondents were the most likely to report that usage at their facilities had risen, with 58.3 percent reporting an increase. They were followed by the South Atlantic and West—57 percent of respondents in each of those regions reported increases in utilization. Respondents from the Northeast were least likely to report increases, with less than half (47.4 percent) indicating utilization had gone up. (See Figure 32.)

Looking ahead, respondents from the West are most likely to expect further increases in 2016, while those in the South Atlantic region are most likely to expect increases in 2017. Respondents in the Northeast continue to be the least likely to expect usage to rise. Some 58.6 percent of respondents in the West expect increases in 2016, and in 2017. They are followed in 2016 by those in the South Atlantic states (58.3 percent) and are preceded by the South Atlantic states in 2017 (60.2 percent). Less than half of those in the Northeast expect an increase in usage in 2016 (48.9 percent) and in 2017 (48.2 percent).

Respondents in the South Atlantic region employ the largest average number of people, while those in the South Central states have the smallest staffs. On average, respondents in the South Atlantic region have 142.6 employees. They were followed by the Midwest (135.7) and the West (133.6). South Central respondents have the fewest employees, with an average of 121.7, followed by the Northeast (127.4).

Respondents from the South Atlantic and Western regions were the most likely to indicate that they had plans to add staff over the coming year. Some 21.6 percent in the South Atlantic and 20.3 percent in the West reported that they would be adding staff. They were followed by the South Central states, where 18.9 percent plan to increase staff, and the Midwest, where 17.3 percent will be adding employees. Just 13 percent of Northeastern respondents had plans to add staff at their facilities.

Respondents from the West were the most likely to report that their revenues had increased from 2014 to 2015. Half (50 percent) of respondents in the West said revenues had increased in that time period. They were followed by South Atlantic respondents (46 percent) and South Central respondents (44.4 percent). Respondents in the Northeast were the least likely to report increasing revenues from 2014 to 2015, with just 37.7 percent indicating they'd seen revenues rise. They were followed by the Midwest, where 41.3 percent reported an increase.

Looking forward, respondents in the West will continue to be most likely to see increasing revenues. In 2016, 52.9 percent of Western respondents expect an increase, and in 2017, 54.6 percent expect revenues to increase. They were followed in both years by the South Atlantic, where 49 percent project an increase to revenues in 2016, and 50.5 percent expect an increase in 2017. Respondents from the Northeast will continue to be least likely to see increasing revenues, with 43.9 percent projecting an increase in 2016 and 44.1 percent projecting an increase in 2017.

Respondents from the South Atlantic states had the highest average operating expenditure in fiscal 2015, at $2,005,000, 15.2 percent higher than the average for all regions. They were followed by South Central respondents, whose average operating expenditure of $1,830,000 was 5.2 percent higher than the average for all regions, and the West, at 1.3 percent higher than all regions with $1,762,000. Respondents in the Midwest had the lowest average operating cost for fiscal 2015, spending $1,590,000 on average, or 8.6 percent lower than the average for all regions. They were followed by the Northeast, spending 4.1 percent less than all regions at $1,669,000. (See Figure 33.)

Looking ahead, respondents from the South Central states are expecting the greatest increase in their average operating expenditure between fiscal 2015 and 2017. These respondents projected a 9.7 percent increase to $2,007,000 in fiscal 2017. They were followed by the South Atlantic region, with a 9 percent increase to $2,186,000, and the Northeast, with a 6.1 percent increase to $1,770,000. The smallest increase was reported by respondents from the West, who projected their operating expenditures to rise 2.5 percent from 2015 to 2017, to an average of $1,806,000. They were followed by the Midwest, projecting a 5.8 percent increase to $1,683,000.

Respondents in the West earned back the highest percentage of their operating costs via revenue, while those from the South Central region earned the lowest percentage back. In the West, respondents reported that they earned an average of 52.4 percent of their operating costs back via revenues. They were followed by the Northeast (50 percent), the Midwest (49.6 percent), and the South Atlantic region (47.6 percent). Respondents in the South Central states reported that they earned back 46.1 percent of their operating costs via revenue, on average.

Respondents from the West and Midwest were the most likely to report that they had taken action to reduce their operating expenditures, though a majority of respondents in all regions had done so. Some 85.3 percent of respondents in the West and 84.7 percent in the Midwest said they had taken such actions. They were followed by the Northeast, where 83.4 percent had taken action to reduce expenditures. Respondents in the South Atlantic and South Central states were slightly less likely to have taken action to reduce their expenditures, with 80.5 percent and 80.2 percent, respectively, indicating they had done so.

That said, respondents in the South Atlantic states were more likely than those in other regions to report that they had reduced staff (36.2 percent); put construction or renovation plans on hold (31.5 percent); reduced their hours of operation (21.6 percent); shortened their season (20.4 percent); or closed facilities entirely (7.3 percent).

Respondents in the West were more likely than those in other regions to report that they had improved energy efficiency at their facilities (56 percent); or increased their fees (48.3 percent).

Respondents in the Midwest were more likely than those in other regions to report that they had cut programs or services (20.3 percent).