Feature Article - June 2015
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2015 State of the Industry

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping


The number of people employed by survey respondents' organizations held fairly steady over the past year. In 2014, the total number of employees was 126.3, and in 2015, the total number of employees is 126.9. This includes 25.6 full-time workers (down from 28); 34.8 part-time workers (down slightly from 35.4); 34.4 seasonal workers (up from 31.1); 30.3 volunteers (up slightly from 30) and 1.9 other workers in 2015. (See Figure 17.)

YMCAs continue to employ the greatest number of people, though there was a decrease from 2014. In 2014, YMCA respondents employed an average of 250.5 people, and in 2015, that number fell to 231.5. Parks and recreation respondents are the second largest employer, with an average of 144.3 employees. Health clubs employ the smallest number, with 76.8 employees, on average.

Schools and school districts have the largest number of full-time employees, with an average of 50.4 They are followed by colleges and universities, with an average of 36.1 full-time workers.

YMCAs employ the greatest number of part-time employees, with 86.6 on average. They are followed by colleges and university respondents, who employ an average of 58.6 part-time workers.

Parks respondents work with the largest number of seasonal workers, with an average of 48.4. Camps follow fairly closely with an average of 45.8 seasonal workers.

Volunteers are most likely to be found at YMCA respondents' facilities. On average, YMCA respondents employ 76.8 volunteers. They are followed by camps, which employ an average of 43.5 volunteers, and parks, with 42.

While a majority of respondents reported that they maintained existing staff levels in 2014 and plan to continue to do so in 2015, a growing number of respondents indicated that they are planning to add more staff. In 2013, 14.9 percent of respondents said they were planning to add staff. That number rose to 17.7 percent in 2014, and increased again in 2015, to 19.7 percent. At the same time, the percentage of respondents who plan to reduce their staff has been falling, from 7.1 percent in 2012 to just 3.6 percent in 2015. (See Figure 18.)

Respondents from community centers, health clubs and parks were the most likely to report that they had plans to add staff in 2015. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of community center respondents said they had such plans, while 23 percent of health club respondents and 20.9 percent of park respondents were planning to add staff.

Respondents from camps and schools were the most likely to be planning staff reductions, though a majority of respondents in both of these groups plan to either maintain existing staff levels or increase staff in 2015. Some 5.2 percent of camp respondents and 4.2 percent of school respondents said they were planning to reduce staff in 2015.

On average, respondents who are planning to add staff will hire 25.1 new employees, with four of those being full-time employees, seven part-time employees, 5.7 seasonal employees and 8.2 volunteers. Respondents from schools, YMCAs and health clubs plan to add the greatest number of employees. School respondents who are adding staff will add 50.8 employees on average; YMCAs will add 38.4; and health clubs will add 35.7.

Over the years of the industry report survey, a majority of respondents have indicated that they require certifications for some of their staff members. This year is no different, with 80.9 percent indicating that they do require certifications, and 19.1 percent reporting that no certifications are required. Of those who do not currently require certification, 18.1 percent reported that they plan to do so in the future. (See Figure 19.)