Annual Public Employment Survey

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To provide current estimates of state and local government employment and payrolls. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this survey and provides for voluntary responses.


All state and local governments in the U.S. Local governments include counties, cities, townships, special districts, and school districts. Data for Federal civilian employees are obtained from the Office of Personnel Management and are reformatted and included to show total public employment.


Data are obtained on employees, by program function, and for selected job categories. Data on employees include of number full- and part-time, gross pay, and hours paid for part-time employees (to calculate full-time equivalent employment). Data by function include 25 primary functions such as education, hospitals, police protection, public welfare, and highways. Data for job categories are limited to major categories such as instructional employees in education and public safety officers in police protection.


Reported data are for each government's mid-March pay period. Data collection and processing begin late in March and continue for about 7 months. Data has been collected annually since 1957. Periodic surveys of public employment have been conducted since the 1940's.


A compilation of data from 3 sources: an enumeration of all 50 state governments, a survey of about 11,000 selected local governments (or of all 89,476 local governments for census years, years ending in "2" and "7"), and data from Federal agencies. By cooperative agreement, data for state agencies in 45 states and school systems in 4 states are consolidated and submitted by a single state agency. Data for agencies in other states and about 10,000 selected local governments are obtained in a mail-out/mail-back survey. All respondents are given the option of submitting their data using our Web based instrument on the Internet.

The Employment Survey for non-census years uses a probability proportional to size (pps) sample to select sample units within each state. It was designed to produce state estimates with a relative standard error of 3 percent or less on FTE employment and total payroll. Prior to mail-out each year, the sample is updated with all new cities, counties, townships, and school districts that were incorporated since the last update as well as a sample of 1 in 25 new special districts. A new sample is selected in years ending in “4” and “9”


Public Employment reports provide U.S. and state area data about 10 months after the reference month (each March). Data content includes measures of full- and part-time employment, full-time equivalent employment, payrolls, and average earnings. Data are shown in total and by function. Similar content is included for each level of government. Reports consist of viewable tables and data files that users can download from the Internet. For Census year data for 1997, 2002, and 2007, users can select “Build-A-Table” to develop customized queries.


The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses these data to update and develop economic measures for the government sector, such as the national income and product accounts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the data to adjust the monthly public employment series. The Department of Housing and Urban Development uses the data to establish payroll guidelines for some local public authorities. State and local governments use the data for peer government analyses. Professional and academic analysts use the information for trend analysis, to compare public and private sector employment and payrolls in the U.S., and to compare U.S. public sector employment with other countries.


Provides the most current, comprehensive and comparable source of data on government employment and payrolls in the U.S., and on trends in public employment activities.


Economic Census

Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances

State and Local Government Public-Employee Retirement System Survey




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