The 2012 Census of more than 89,000 US Local Governments

How big is government? Well, this survey of local agencies in the US may clarify that for you. The US Census Bureau has just released the data and findings from the 2012 Census of US Governments. The Individual State Descriptions provide the foundation of how government entities are identified and classified for the U.S. Census Bureau statistics on governments. Conducted every five years, the census of governments provides the only uniform source of statistics for all of the nation’s state and local governments.

US census of local government

FYI, In 2012, 89,004 local governments existed in the United States, down from 89,476 in the last census of governments conducted in 2007. Local governments included 3,031 counties (down from 3,033 in 2007), 19,522 municipalities (up from 19,492 in 2007), 16,364 townships (down from 16,519 in 2007), 37,203 special districts (down from 37,381 in 2007) and 12,884 independent school districts (down from 13,051 in 2007).

Key findings in the 2012 Census of Governments preliminary counts:

  • Illinois leads the nation with 6,968 local governments — approximately 2,000 more than second-place Pennsylvania.
  • Hawaii has 21 local governments, the fewest of any state.
  • Texas remains first in the nation with the most independent school districts at 1,079. Closely behind is California, with 1,025 independent school districts.
  • Seventeen states had more special districts compared with 2007, and 29 had fewer. Five states (including the District of Columbia) had no change.
  • Ten states had fewer townships because of mergers and consolidations. Kansas decreased the most, moving from 1,353 in 2007 to 1,268 in 2012, a decrease of 85.

See complete info and data from the survey at

Note: I’m still searchign the site for the raw data (excel tables etc…) but all I can locate are PDFs, so apparently government is big but it’s not open!

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