Feature Article - June 2010
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REGIONAL INFORMATION

A Look at Regional Trends


Growth in Usage

Interesting trends arise when usage statistics are compared with the likelihood of facilities to increase fees. Growing usage seems to coincide with a reduced likelihood of increasing fees.

For example, respondents in the South Central states were the most likely to report an increase in numbers from 2008 to 2009, as well as from 2009 to 2010. (See Figure 31.) Interestingly, in the same time frame, those from the South Central states were the least likely to be increasing the fees they charge for usage of their facilities. Just over a quarter (25.9 percent) indicated that they increased fees in 2009 over 2008, and about the same amount (25.7 percent) were projecting a fee increase in 2010 over 2009.

From 2010 to 2011, those in the South Atlantic region were the most likely to be expecting an increase in the number of people using their facilities. Also in that time period, they were second least likely to be expecting a fee increase. The South Central states were again the least likely to project an increase in fees in that year, with just 32.1 percent expecting an increase. Only 32.3 percent of South Atlantic states were projecting a fee increase in that year.

The other side of the coin largely holds true as well. The regions where usage was less likely to grow were more likely to increase fees. From 2008 to 2009, the Northeast was the least likely to report that the number of people using its facilities had risen. It also was the region where respondents were most likely to report that those numbers had fallen. So, while 47.2 percent of respondents in the Northeast reported an increase in users in 2009 over 2008, 16.8 percent reported a decrease. At the same time, these respondents were more likely than others to report that they had increased fees. Some 42.7 percent of respondents in the Northeast said they had increased fees from 2008 to 2009.

There is a departure from this trend in 2010, when those in the Midwest are most likely to project increasing their fees, while those in the West are least likely to expect an increase in users. But the trend returns in 2011, when those in the West are both the least likely to expect increasing usage, as well as the most likely to be planning a fee increase.

As might be expected, with increasing usage comes a growing need for staff to work at the facilities. And, in fact, while the lowest overall staff level was seen in the South Central states, where respondents report an average of 101.6 staff members (28 percent lower than those in the West, who reported the highest average of 141.1 staff members), these respondents were the most likely to indicate that they have plans to grow their staff this year. At the same time, they also were the least likely to report that staff cuts were in the works. Nearly 18 percent of respondents in the South Central states indicated they were planning to increase their staff levels this year, while 7.9 percent said they were planning staff reductions. This compares with 20.7 percent of those in the West and 19.2 percent of those in the Midwest planning reductions—the highest percentage of respondents by region indicating they had such plans.