Feature Article - July 2009
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Dollars and Sense

Our 2009 Salary Survey of the Managed Recreation, Sports & Fitness Industry

By Emily Tipping


ith the most recent news on employment numbers, five states (Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee) and the District of Columbia crossed into double-digit unemployment in May to join the eight that had crossed that line in April (California, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Nevada, North Carolina, and South Carolina). Many experts now expect that the national unemployment rate will rise into double digits in 2009. Already, the jobless rate has reached a 25-year high of 9.4 percent, according to government figures.

And in this economic climate, many are repeating the statement, "You should consider yourself lucky to have a job." But jobs still come with pay, and in light of that fact, we're looking this month at the most recent information we've gathered relevant to the managed recreation, sports and fitness industry on salaries and careers.

The information contained in this report is based on an extensive survey, conducted by Signet Research Inc., an independent research company. From Feb. 10 to March 2 of this year, we collected 2,064 responses from recreation, sports and fitness professionals to questions about their facilities and their careers. The first part of our study, the State of the Industry Report, was published last month. This month, we report on the information respondents shared about their salaries and careers.

The vast majority of respondent to our survey, 88.1 percent, indicated that they were either extremely concerned or somewhat concerned about the impact of the economic downturn on their facilities. Less than 3 percent are unconcerned. That concern must surely translate into worry about their employment. While many are already doing more with less, in terms of their facility budgets, they also are likely doing the same amount of work (if not more) with fewer employees. And in fact, the number-one concerns after the economy among our respondents were worries about equipment and facility maintenance (a top concern for 54.6 percent of respondents) as well as staffing issues (a top concern for 45 percent of respondents).

Survey Methodology

Signet Research Inc., an independent research company, sent an e-mail broadcast on Feb. 10, 2009, to nearly 21,000 subscribers to Recreation Management, who were invited to participate in the online survey. When the survey closed on March 2, 2,064 responses had been collected, for a 10 percent response rate. The findings of this survey may be accepted as accurate, at a 95 percent confidence level, within a sampling tolerance of approximately +/- 2.2 percent.