Feature Article - June 2020
Find a printable version here

Trends in Parks & Recreation

A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation


In this section, we take a look at the latest trends among respondents from parks agencies. The largest cohort covered in the survey, these respondents made up 47.1% of the survey population.

Park respondents were most likely to be located in the Midwest, West or South Atlantic regions. Some 28.7% of park respondents were from the Midwest, 24.6% were from the West, and 22.3% were from the South Atlantic. Smaller numbers of park respondents were located in the Northeast (12.2%) and South Central (11.9%) regions, and 0.2% said they were located outside of the United States.

Park respondents in 2020 were more likely than non-parks respondents to be from suburban and urban communities, and less likely to be located in rural areas. Some 44.1% of park respondents were located in the suburbs, compared with 38.6% of non-park respondents, and while 25.1% of park respondents were found in urban communities, 22% of non-park respondents were from urban areas. On the other hand, 39.4% of non-park respondents were found in rural communities, compared with 30.8% of park respondents.

Park respondents were more likely to reach larger populations of people than most other respondents. On average, park respondents said they reach a population of 142,000 people, up 19.7% from the average in 2019, of 118,600. Park respondents were much more likely than non-parks to report reaching an audience of 100,000 or more, while they were much less likely to reach an audience of 20,000 or fewer. Some 29.8% of park respondents said they reach at least 100,000 people (up from 24% in 2019). This compares with just 18.3% of non-park respondents. On the other hand, while 29.3% of park respondents said they reach a population of 20,000 or fewer (down from 30% in 2019), 56.8% of non-park respondents reach 20,000 or fewer people.

On average, park respondents said they manage 12 facilities, up slightly from 10.7 in 2019. More than three in 10 (30.5%) park respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities. (See Figure 41.) This compares with just 9.9% of non-park respondents. Conversely, park respondents were much less likely to manage just a single facility. While 17.2% of park respondents said they manage just one facility, 44.4% of non-park respondents said they have just one facility to manage.

Park respondents were more likely than non-park respondents to report that they reach either an all-ages audience or children ages 4 to 12. While 54.4% of park respondents said they primarily reach all ages, just 35.2% of non-park respondents reach an all-ages audience. And while 26.4% of park respondents reach children ages 4 to 12, just 11.5% of non-park respondents do so. Other audiences served by parks include: adults 19 and up (15% of park respondents said they primarily reach adults); teens (2.4%); seniors 65 and older (2.4%); and infants and toddlers (0.3%).