Feature Article - June 2017
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Regional Information

A Look at Regional Trends

Although each region of the country encompasses a wide range of respondents, when it comes to some types of trends particularly in terms of costs for construction, prevalent features, usage and more, it can be useful to break information down by region to take a closer look.

The regional distribution of the more than 1,700 people who responded to the Industry Report survey is slightly different from the U.S. Census Bureau's population distribution as of 2016, with more weight given to the Midwest in our survey responses.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2016, 17.4 percent of the population is located in the Northeast, 21 percent in the Midwest, 37.9 percent in the South and 23.7 percent in the West. In our 2017 Industry Report survey, 16.3 percent of respondents were from the Northeast, 29.9 percent from the Midwest, 34.4 percent from the South (with 20.2 percent from South Atlantic states and 14.2 percent from South Central states), and 18.6 percent were from the West. Another 0.7 percent of our respondents were located outside of the United States.

Respondents from the South Central and South Atlantic regions were the most likely to be from urban communities. Some 27.8 percent of South Central respondents and 27.5 percent of South Atlantic respondents said they were located in urban areas. They were followed by those from the West, 26.5 percent of whom were from urban areas, and the Midwest (21.2 percent). Respondents from the Northeast were the least likely to be located in urban communities (16.5 percent).

Respondents from the Northeast and South Atlantic regions were the most likely to be located in suburban communities, with 57 percent of Northeastern respondents and 44.8 percent of South Atlantic respondents reporting in from the suburbs. They were followed by respondents in the West (40.1 percent) and South Central regions (38.4 percent). Respondents from the Midwest were the last likely to be from suburban communities, though more than one-third (36.8 percent) said they were located in the suburbs.

Midwestern respondents were far more likely than others to report in from rural areas. Some 42.2 percent of respondents in the Midwest said they were located in rural communities. They were followed by South Central respondents (33.9 percent) and Western respondents (33.4 percent). Among those from the Northeast and South Atlantic states, just 26.5 percent and 27.7 percent, respectively, said they were from rural communities.

There was fairly wide variation in the average population size for respondents from different regions. Respondents in the South Atlantic, West and South Central regions all had an average population reached of more than 100,000 people, with smaller population sizes reported in the Midwest and Northeast. The largest average population was found among South Atlantic respondents, at 118,500. They were followed by the West (113,500) and South Central region (106,900). Respondents in the Northeast reported the smallest average population served, at 68,300. They were followed by the Midwest, at 82,900.

Interestingly, though respondents in the Midwest were among those reporting a smaller average population size in both 2016 and 2017, these respondents saw a sharper increase in their average population than any other region from one year to the next. In the Midwest, the average population reached by respondents was up 26.6 percent from 2016 to 2017, from 65,500 to 82,900. These were followed by those in the West, whose average population grew 22.4 percent, from 92,700 to 113,500. Much smaller increases were seen among respondents from the South Atlantic region (up 9.7 percent from 108,000 to 118,500); the South Central region (up 5.5 percent, from 101,300 to 106,900); and the Northeast (up 3.6 percent, from 65,900 to 68,300).

While respondents from all of the regions were most likely to be from parks and recreation facilities, the concentration of facility types does vary from one region to another. For example, those in the West are far more likely to be from parks and recreation organizations than those in the Northeast, while Northeastern respondents are far more likely to be from YMCAs than those in the West. (See Figure 31.)