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About the Survey

Sponsor: U.S. Census Bureau as authorized by Title 13, United States Code, Section 161 for Census years and 182 for non-Census years.

Purpose: Measure the number of federal, state, and local civilian government employees and their gross monthly payroll for March of the survey year for state and local governments and for the Federal Government.

Content: The survey provides state and local government data on full-time and part-time employment, part-time hours worked, full-time equivalent employment, and payroll statistics by governmental function (i.e., elementary and secondary education, higher education, police protection, fire protection, financial administration, central staff services, judicial and legal, highways, public welfare, solid waste management, sewerage, parks and recreation, health, hospitals, water supply, electric power, gas supply, transit, natural resources, correction, libraries, air transportation, water transport and terminals, other education, state liquor stores, social insurance administration, and housing and community development).

The survey provides Federal Government data on total employees, full-time employees, and total March payroll by governmental function. There is no detail available for part-time employment, part-time hours worked, full-time equivalent, or full-time or part-time employee payrolls. Three functions apply only to the Federal Government and have no counterpart at the state and local government levels: national defense and international relations, postal service, and space research and technology.

Frequency: Data have been collected annually since 1957. A census is conducted every five years (years ending in ‘2’ and ‘7’). A sample of state and local governments is used to collect data in the intervening years. A new sample is selected every five years (years ending in ‘4’ and ‘9’).

Products: Viewable summary tables for each state for each level of government and downloadable data files including summary tables, files of individual government data and files of county area data. Data are presented in total and by function. Customized tables can be created using Build-a-Table for 1997, 2002 and 2007 data.

How the data are used: The U.S. Congress, federal agencies, state and local governments, educational and research organizations, and the general public employ these results. Some major uses include the following:

  • Development of the government component of the gross domestic product estimates
  • Development of the national income accounts
  • Development of personal income figures for state and county areas
  • Allocation of certain federal grant funds
  • Legislative research
  • Wage and salary negotiations by state and local governments
  • Comparative studies of state and local government employment

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Government Employment & Payroll | govs.employ@census.gov |  Last Revised: August 23, 2012