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central-minnesota-mapCentral Minnesota is a manufacturing stronghold, with several global manufacturing firms operating there.

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Running in Place: Fitness and Recreation Employment Trends

12/20/2016 10:09:32 AM

Luke Greiner

If your New Year’s resolution involves getting in better shape, there’s a good chance that you – and many others – will frequent one of the 58 fitness establishments in Central Minnesota. However, well-intentioned resolutions sometimes fizzle before they have a chance to make a life-altering transformation. According to an article in the New York Times, January provides a crucial bump for gyms as new memberships often double, while about one-third of all members turn over every year.

Likewise, jobs at fitness and recreation establishments bulge in the first and fourth quarter of each year, reflecting changing needs from membership fluctuations. However, the last ten years have shown some belt tightening at these establishments. From 2000 to 2007, jobs at Fitness and Recreational Sports Centers grew by 130 percent, adding almost 500 new jobs. Of course, much like exercise benchmarks, long-term gains have eluded the industry since peaking in 2007. Employment declined through the Great Recession and much of the recovery. With 27 percent fewer jobs in 2015, Fitness and Recreation Centers would need to grow their payroll by 235 jobs to match 2007 employment levels (Figure 1).

Central Minnesota Employment Trends

Lackluster growth isn’t just limited to employment and establishments of fitness and recreation centers, as average annual wages for workers in the sector have also lagged considerably. Not only have wages in the sector not kept pace with inflation, they’ve actually declined since 2006. The largest fitness and exercise occupations are relatively low-paying, with Recreation Workers and Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors earning less than $24,000 and $26,000 in Central Minnesota, respectively, but accounting for nearly 1,300 jobs. Those positions are much more common than higher-skilled and higher-paying jobs like Athletic Trainers and Exercise Physiologists, which earn closer to $40,000 and $61,745, respectively, but have just 120 positions in Central Minnesota (Figure 2).

Employment and Median Wage for Fitness and Exercise Jobs in Central Minnesota

Although the fitness and recreation industry has grappled with seasonal fluctuations and declining employment in the last decade, more recent data is starting to trend positive. With more than 40 new jobs created in 2015, fitness and recreation centers haven’t run out of steam yet. If the last two years of growth continue in the next four years, employment would top the previous peak of 881 jobs sometime in 2020, creating a healthier environment for everyone.

For More Information

For more information, contact Luke Greiner at 320-308-5378 or email Luke.Greiner@state.mn.us.

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