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The Census of Governments

A Detailed Portrait of State and Local Government Activities

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census of all state and local government units every 5 years, for years ending in 2 and 7, as required by law under Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 161. The Census of Governments identifies the scope and nature of the nation's state and local governments, classifies state and local government organizations, powers, and activities; and provides authoritative benchmark data on public finance and public employment.

The Census of Governments is conducted in three parts:

  • Part One: Organization – Number and characteristics of state and local governments:
    • level of government (state, local, or state and local combined)
    • type of government (state, county, city, township, special district, school district)
    • category of governmental activity
  • Part Two: Employment – Number of state and local government civilian employees and their payrolls by governmental function for the pay periods that includes March 12 of the census year:
    • full-time and part-time employment
    • part-time hours worked
    • full-time equivalent employment
    • payroll statistics by governmental function
  • Part Three: Finance – Information on revenues, expenditures, assets, debt, and public pensions for the fiscal year of the census:
    • state government finances
    • state and local government finances
    • public elementary-secondary education finances
    • state public pensions
    • state and local public pensions