Feature Article - June 2016
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2016 State of the Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


The average number of people employed at the organizations covered by the survey has increased slightly over the past three years, rising 5.2 percent from an average of 126.3 in 2014 to 132.9 in 2016. This includes 26.7 full-time workers (up from 25.6 in 2015); 37.6 part-time workers (up from 34.8); 35.3 seasonal workers (up from 34.4); 31.8 volunteers (up from 30.3); and 1.5 other workers. (See Figure 19.)

YMCAs continue to employ more people than any other facility type by far, with an average of 231.8 employees. They were followed by parks and recreation respondents, who employed 145.4 people on average, and colleges and universities, with 127.7. Health clubs employ the smallest staffs, at 99.5 on average, though this is a sharp increase from 2015, when health clubs employed an average of 76.8 people.

Schools and school districts employ the largest number of full-time workers, at 64.2. They are followed distantly by colleges, with an average of 30 full-time employees.

YMCAs employ more part-time workers than other types of facilities, with 97.5 part-time workers, on average. They are followed by colleges and universities, with an average of 72.6 part-time workers.

Seasonal employees are employed in the highest numbers by parks respondents. Parks respondents said they employ an average of 51 seasonal workers. They are followed by camps, with an average of 43.6.

YMCAs employ the greatest number of volunteers, with an average of 77.6. They are followed by camps, with an average of 45.6.

Over the past five years, the percentage of respondents planning to grow or maintain their current staff levels has been steadily increasing. While 7.1 percent of respondents in 2012 planned to reduce their staff, in 2016 that percentage has fallen to 3.1 percent. More than three-quarters (78.6 percent) of 2016 respondents said they will maintain existing staff numbers, and 18.4 percent plan to add more staff in the coming year. (See Figure 20.)

On average, respondents are planning to add 20.8 employees in the coming year, down slightly from 2015 when respondents planned to add 25.1 new employees This will include, on average, seven seasonal employees, 5.7 volunteers, 4.8 part-time workers, 2.7 full-time workers and 0.6 others. Those with the plans to hire the greatest number of employees in the coming year include YMCAs (who plan to hire 44.7, on average), parks (23.3) and community recreation centers (18.4).

Community recreation centers, parks and colleges are the most likely to report that they have plans to add any staff. Nearly a quarter (24.7 percent) of community recreation center respondents indicated that they had such plans. They were followed by parks respondents (20.6 percent will add staff) and colleges and universities (18.6 percent).

Respondents from YMCAs, camps and schools were the most likely to report that they had plans to reduce staff, though the number who had such plans was small in every case. Nearly one in 10 (9.5 percent) YMCA respondents said they had plans to reduce staff. They were followed by camps (5.1 percent of whom plan to reduce staff) and schools (4.1 percent).

A majority of respondents require at least some of their staff members to earn and maintain specific certifications, often a tool for measuring and verifying specific types of knowledge and skill specific to a field. In 2016, 81.4 percent of respondents said they require certifications for their staff. Of those who do not currently require certification, 16.6 percent said they will require it in the future. (See Figure 21.)