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Feature Article - June 2018
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Regional Information

A Look at Regional Trends


From 2016 to 2017, 60.2 percent of respondents in the West said the number of people using their facilities increased, and 56 percent in the South Atlantic reported an increase. More than half of respondents in the Northeast (50.7 percent) also saw an increase in the number of people using their facilities. Midwestern respondents were the least likely to report an increase (42.8 percent), followed by the South Central region (48.7 percent).

Looking forward, respondents from the South Atlantic region were the most likely to expect further increases, with 60.8 percent expecting an increase in 2018, and 63.9 percent in 2019. They were followed by the West, with 58.8 percent expecting the number of people using their facilities to increase in 2018, and 59.6 percent in 2019. Midwestern respondents continued to be least likely to expect increasing usage at their facilities, with 45.5 percent projecting an increase for 2018, and 43.9 percent for 2019.

Respondents in the South Atlantic and West employ the largest number of people, on average, while those in the South Central region have the smallest number of employees. On average, respondents in the South Atlantic have 122.1 employees, while Western respondents have 121.9. They were followed by the Northeast, with 116.9 employees on average, the Midwest, with 111.9, and the South Central region, with 105.9.

As in 2016 and 2017, respondents from the South Atlantic and the West were the most likely to indicate that they have plans to add staff at their facilities over the coming year. Some 27.8 percent of South Atlantic respondents said they have such plans (up from 26.4 percent in 2017, while 20.8 percent of Western respondents said they will be adding staff (down from 21.8 percent in 2017). They were followed by the South Central region, where 18.9 percent plan to add staff (down from 20.4 percent); and the Northeast, where 17 percent plan to add staff (down from 17.4 percent). Midwestern respondents are the least likely to be planning to add staff, with 16.4 percent indicating they will do so, down from 18.6 percent in 2017.

Respondents from the West were the most likely to report that their revenues had increased from 2016 to 2017. More than half (50.2 percent) of respondents in the West said revenues had increased in that time period. They were followed by the South Atlantic (41 percent of whom said revenues increased from 2016 to 2017), South Central (39.5 percent), Midwest (38.8 percent) and Northeast (37.3 percent). Respondents in the South Central region were more likely than those in other regions to report a drop in revenue from 2016 to 2017, with 16.2 percent indicating their revenues had fallen.

Looking forward, respondents in the West and South Atlantic are the most likely to expect further increases in revenue. From 2017 to 2018, 51.4 percent of Western respondents and 49 percent of South Atlantic respondents said they expect their revenues to grow. They were followed by respondents in the South Central region (45.5 percent), the Northeast (45.1 percent) and the Midwest (39.9 percent). From 2018 to 2019, 52.7 percent of Western respondents said they expect revenues to increase. They were followed by those in the South Central region (49.1 percent), the South Atlantic (46.3 percent), the Northeast (41.9 percent) and the Midwest (41.4 percent).

Respondents from the South Atlantic states had the highest average operating expenditures in fiscal 2017, at $2,340,000, 30 percent higher than the average for all regions ($1,800,000). They were followed by respondents in the West, whose average operating expenditure of $2,290,000 is 27.2 percent higher than the average for all regions, and the South Central states, whose average expenditure of $1,830,000 is 1.7 percent higher than the average for all respondents. Respondents in the Northeast reported the lowest average operating cost for fiscal 2017, at $1,350,000, which is 25 percent lower than the average for all respondents. They were followed by the Midwest, spending 18.9 percent less than the average for all regions, at $1,460,000. (See Figure 33.)


Looking ahead, respondents in all regions expect their operating expenses to increase between 2017 and 2019, with the greatest increases projected for South Central and Northeastern respondents. South Central respondents projected a 12.6 percent increase to an average of $2,060,000 in fiscal 2019. They were followed by the Northeast, with an 11.1 percent increase to $1,500,000, and the West, where a 10 percent increase will result in an annual operating budget of $2,520,000 on average. Respondents in the South Atlantic region projected a much more modest 3 percent increase to an average of $2,410,000 in 2019. Midwestern respondents reported that they expect no change to their average operating costs between 2017 and 2019.

Respondents in the Midwest earn back the highest percentage of their operating costs via revenues, while those in the South Central region once again held their spot as the region earning back the lowest percentage of operating costs. In the Midwest, respondents reported that they earn an average of 50.1 percent of their operating costs back via revenues (down slightly from 50.7 percent in 2017). They were followed by the Northeast (49.9 percent, down from 50.2 percent), the South Atlantic (47.9 percent, down from 48.5 percent), and the West (47.2 percent, down from 53.1 percent). Only respondents in the South Central region reported an increase in the percentage of operating costs they earn back via revenue from 2017 to 2018. In 2017, South Central respondents said they earn back an average of 45.6 percent of their costs, and in 2018, that number rose to 46 percent.

Respondents from the Midwest and West were the most likely to report that they have taken action in the past year to reduce their operating expenditures, though a majority of respondents in all regions have done so. Some 83.4 percent of Midwestern respondents and 82.7 percent of Western respondents said they have taken such actions. They were followed by the South Atlantic region, where 78.7 percent of respondents have taken action to reduce expenses. Respondents in the South Central region and the Northeast are the least likely to have acted to reduce expenses, with 76.3 percent and 76.8 percent, respectively, indicating they have done so.

Respondents from the West are the most likely to have taken several specific actions to reduce their operating expenses, including increasing fees (52.4 percent), reducing staff (33 percent), cutting programs or services (24.5 percent) and reducing hours of operation (22.4 percent). Respondents in the Midwest were more likely than those from other regions to indicate that they acted to improve energy efficiency (54.2 percent) or shortened their season of operation (8.8 percent) in order to reduce costs. Respondents in the South Atlantic region were more likely than those in other locations to indicate that they had put construction or renovation plans on hold (29.5 percent). And respondents in the Northeast were more likely than others to say that they had closed facilities (5.1 percent).

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