Government Employment & Payroll

Skip top of page navigation
You are here: Census.govBusiness & IndustryFederal, State, & Local GovernmentsGovernment Employment & Payroll › Definitions


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
  • Air transportation – Activities associated with the operation and support of publicly operated airport facilities.
  • All other and unallocable – Employees engaged in activities that are not applicable to other employment functions, or are multi-functional.

  • Corrections – Activities pertaining to the confinement and correction of adults and minors convicted of criminal offenses. Pardon, probation, and parole activities are also included here.


  • Electric power – Activities associated with the production or acquisition and distribution of electric power.
  • Elementary and secondary education total – All activities associated with the operation of public elementary and secondary schools and locally operated vocational-technical schools. Special education programs operated by elementary and secondary school systems are also included as are all ancillary services associated with the operation of schools, such as pupil transportation and food service.
  • Elementary and secondary instructional employees – Includes classroom teachers, principals, supervisors of instruction, librarians, teacher aides, library aides, and guidance and psychological personnel.
  • Elementary and secondary instructional other employees – Includes all persons not included as instructional employees (e.g., school superintendents and other administrative personnel, clerical and secretarial staffs, plant operation and maintenance personnel, health and recreation employees, transportation and food service personnel, and any student employees).
  • Employees – State and local government employees include all persons paid for personal services performed, including persons paid from federally funded programs, paid elected or appointed officials, persons in a paid leave status, and persons paid on a per meeting, annual, semiannual, or quarterly basis. Unpaid officials, pensioners, persons whose work is performed on a fee basis, and contractors and their employees are excluded from the count of employees. For federal employees, employee counts are the on-board "head count" as of the end of the report period. The data collected for this survey include all federal civilian employees, including seasonal and intermittent employees, and employees on foreign assignments residing outside the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency are not included in any of the data presented by government function. Federal judges, members of Congress and their staffs, employees of the Congressional Budget Office, and elected (with the exception of the President) and appointed officials of the Executive Branch are included. Employees of non-appropriated funds of defense activities are not classified as federal employees; therefore, they are excluded.
  • Employment – Employment refers to all persons gainfully employed by and performing services for a government.

Back to top


  • Financial administration – Activities concerned with tax assessment and collection, custody and disbursement of funds, debt management, administration of trust funds, budgeting, and other government-wide financial management activities. This function is not applied to school district or special district governments.
  • Fire protection – Applies to local government fire protection and prevention activities plus any ambulance, rescue, or other auxiliary services provided by a fire protection agency. Volunteer firefighters, if remunerated for their services on a "per fire" or some other basis, are included as part-time employees.
  • Firefighters only – Personnel trained and/or engaged in fire suppression and prevention.
  • Full-time employees – Persons employed during the pay period to work the number of hours per week that represents regular full-time employment. Included are full-time temporary or seasonal employees who are working the number of hours that represent full-time employment.
  • Full-Time Equivalent – Full-time equivalent is a computed statistic representing the number of full-time employees that could have been employed if the reported number of hours worked by part-time employees had been worked by full-time employees. This statistic is calculated separatedly for each function of a government by dividing the "part-time hours paid" by the standard number of hours for full-time employees in the particular government and then adding the resulting quotient to the number of full-time employees.
  • Full-time pay – Gross payroll amounts for the one-month period of March for full-time employees. Gross payrolls includes all salaries, wages, fees, commissions, and overtime paid to employees before withholdings for taxes, insurance, etc. It also includes incentive payments that are paid at regular pay intervals. It excludes employer share of fringe benefits like retirement, Social Security, health and life insurance, lump sum payments, and so forth.
  • Function codes – Three digit numeric code to specify government function. See function codes for a list of all the function codes and the corresponding government function.

Back to top


  • Gas supply – Local government activities associated with the acquisition of gas supplies and distribution to individual consumers.
  • Government function – Classifies the activity of a government into categories such as air transportation, corrections and highways.

Back to top


  • Health – Includes administration of public health programs, community and visiting nurse services, immunization programs, drug abuse rehabilitation programs, health and food inspection activities, operation of outpatient clinics, and environmental pollution control activities.
  • Higher education total – Includes local government degree granting institutions that provide academic training above grade 12.
  • Higher education instructional employees – Includes persons engaged in teaching and related academic research.
  • Higher education other employees – Includes all persons not included as instructional employees (e.g., administrative, clerical, custodial, cafeteria, health personnel, noninstructional employees engaged in organized research, law enforcement personnel, and paid student employees).
  • Highways – Activities associated with the maintenance and operation of streets, roads, sidewalks, bridges, tunnels, toll roads, and ferries are included at this function. Snow and ice removal, street lighting, and highway and traffic engineering activities are also included here.
  • Hospitals – Includes only government operated medical care facilities that provide inpatient care. Employees and payrolls of private corporations that lease and operate government-owned hospital facilities are excluded.
  • Housing and community development – Includes operation of housing and redevelopment projects and other activities to promote or aid housing and community development.

Back to top


  • Judicial and legal – Includes all court and court related activities (except probation and parole activities that are included at the "Correction" function), court activities of sheriff's offices, prosecuting attorneys' and public defenders' offices, legal departments, and attorneys providing government-wide legal service.

Back to top


  • Level of government– The three levels of government are the Federal Government, state governments, and local governments (including counties, municipalities, townships, special districts, and school districts).
  • Libraries– Establishment and provision of libraries for use by the general public and the technical support of privately operated libraries.

Back to top


  • Natural resources– Activities primarily concerned with the conservation and development of natural resources (soil, water, energy, minerals, etc.) and the regulation of industries that develop, utilize, or affect natural resources.

Back to top


  • Other education– Employees in support of special programs and institutions primarily for:

    • Training and education (rather than care) of the blind, deaf, or other handicapped.
    • Programs for adult, vocational, or special education that operate outside school systems
    • Educational activities not assignable to other education functions.
  • Other fire employees– Other employees not trained and/or engaged in fire suppression and prevention.
  • Other government administration– Applies to the legislative and government-wide administrative agencies of governments. Included here are overall planning and zoning activities, and central personnel and administrative activities. This function is not applied to school district or special district governments.
  • Other police employees– Includes persons who do not have the power of arrest.

Back to top


  • Parks and recreation – Include the operation and maintenance of parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, public beaches, auditoriums, public golf courses, museums, marinas, botanical gardens, and zoological parks.
  • Part-time employees – Persons paid on a part-time basis during the designated pay period. Included are those daily or hourly employees usually engaged for less than the regular full-time workweek, as well as any part-time paid officials.
  • Part-time hours – The number of hours worked by part-time employees during the pay period. Note that these data are not collected for publication but rather are used to calculate full-time equivalent employment statistics.
  • Part-time pay – Gross payroll amounts for the one-month period of March for part-time employees. Gross payroll includes all salaries, wages, fees, commissions, and overtime paid to employees before withholdings for taxes, insurance, etc. It also includes incentive payments that are paid at regular pay intervals. It excludes employer share of fringe benefits like retirement, Social Security, health and life insurance, lump sum payments, and so forth.
  • Police protection – All activities concerned, with the enforcement of law and order, including coroner's offices, police training academies, investigation bureaus, and local jails, "lockups", or other detention facilities not intended to serve as correctional facilities.
  • Police officers only – Includes only persons with the power of arrest.
  • Public welfare – Includes the administration of various public assistance programs for the needy, veteran services, operation of nursing homes, indigent care institutions, and programs that provide payments for medical care, handicap transportation, and other services for the needy.

Back to top


  • Sewerage– Provision, maintenance, and operation of sanitary and storm sewer systems and sewage disposal and treatment facilities.
  • Social insurance administration– Administration of unemployment compensation systems, public employment services, and the Federal Social Security, Medicare, and Railroad Retirement trusts.
  • Solid waste management– Refuse collection and disposal, operation of sanitary landfills, and street cleaning activities.
  • State liquor stores– The administration and operation of liquor stores by state governments.

Back to top


  • Total education– Includes all elementary-secondary, technical-vocational, and higher education related employees.
  • Transit- Includes operation, maintenance, and construction of public mass transit systems, including subways, surface rails, and buses.

Back to top


  • Water supply– Includes operation, maintenance, and construction of public water supply systems, including production, acquisition, and distribution of water to general public or to other public or private utilities, for residential, commercial, and industrial use.
  • Water transport and terminals– Provision, construction, operation, maintenance, and support of public waterways, harbors, docks, wharves, and related marine terminal facilities.

Back to top

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Government Employment & Payroll | |  Last Revised: March 02, 2012