Feature Article - June 2018
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Regional Information

A Look at Regional Trends

Each region of the country—Northeast, Midwest, South Atlantic, South Central and West—is home to a wide range of respondents, but there are some trends, including construction costs, features and more, that differ enough from region to region to provide the impetus for taking a closer look at the data.

As usual, the response to the survey was more representative of the Midwest than general population trends reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2017, 17.3 percent of the U.S. population is located in the Northeast, 20.9 percent in the Midwest, 38 percent in the South and 23.8 percent in the West. For our 2018 Industry Report survey, 18 percent of the response came from the Northeast, 31.9 percent from the Midwest, 28.6 percent from the South and 21.4 percent from the West. Another 0.1 percent of respondents are located outside of the United States.

Respondents from the South Central and South Atlantic regions were the most likely to report that they are from urban communities. Some 25.4 percent of South Central respondents and 24.8 percent of South Atlantic respondents are located in urban areas. They were followed by those from the West, 21.2 percent of whom are from urban communities. Respondents from the Midwest and Northeast were the least likely to report from urban areas, with 18.2 percent of Midwestern and 19.1 percent of Northeastern respondents being located in urban communities.

Respondents from the South Atlantic and Northeast regions are more likely than those in other regions to be located in suburban communities, with 48.1 percent of South Atlantic respondents and 47.3 percent of Northeastern respondents reporting in from the suburbs. They were followed by respondents in the South Central region (42.1 percent of whom are located in suburban communities), the West (42.1 percent) and the Midwest (40.3 percent).

Midwestern respondents were far more likely than others to report in from rural communities. Some 41.5 percent of respondents in the Midwest said they are from rural areas. More than one-third of Western respondents (36.7 percent), South Central respondents (34.4 percent) and Northeastern respondents (33.6 percent) are also from rural communities. Respondents in the South Atlantic are the least likely to be located in rural communities, with 27.1 percent calling rural areas home.

There is substantial variation in the number of people respondents serve via their facilities depending on the region in which they are located. The largest population size was reported by respondents in the West, who said they reach an average of 112,700 people. They were followed by the South Atlantic, with an average population size of 107,800. Respondents in the South Central region reported an average population size of 85,520. Respondents in the Midwest and Northeast reach the smallest population, with an average of 61,750 and 66,920, respectively.

From 2016 to 2018, most regions reported a decrease in the average number of people reached by their facilities. Only the West and Northeast saw an increase in population size, with populations in the West increasing 21.6 percent, from 92,700 to 112,700, and populations in the Northeast rising 1.5 percent, from 65,900 in 2016 to 66,920 in 2018. The South Atlantic region saw virtually no change in that time period, reporting a slight decrease of 0.2 percent, from 108,000 in 2016 to 107,800 in 2018. The Midwest saw a slightly greater, 5.7 percent decrease, from 65,500 in 2016 to 61,750 in 2018. The greatest decline in number of people reached is found in the South Central region, where respondents said their average population fell 15.6 percent, from 101,300 in 2016 to 85,520 in 2018.

No matter which region they are from, respondents are most likely to be from parks and recreation facilities, but the concentration of facility types does vary slightly from region to region. For example, respondents in the West are far more likely to work for parks than those in the South Central region, and respondents in the Midwest are much more likely to be from schools than those in the South Atlantic (See. Figure 31.)