View Historical Changes in Local Government Employment

How has local government employment changed? View historical data to see employment for various job functions.
by | January 19, 2012 AT 3:50 PM

Employment for different sectors of local government has fluctuated, but generally climbed over the past few decades.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts an annual survey of government agencies measuring employment and payroll. Governing compiled U.S. totals dating back to 1993, viewable in the chart below.

The most recent 2010 estimates showed local governments employed about 12.2 million full-time equivalent workers across the country, a nearly 28 percent jump since 1993. Population increased about 20 percent over the 17-year period.

Of course, local government employment has more recently declined. Along with the 2010 cuts shown in the chart, the Labor Department estimates local governments shed 181,000 jobs from payrolls in 2011.

Figures reported from the Census of Governments are listed for 1997, 2002 and 2007; other yearly figures represent survey estimates. The bureau's governments division said historical data is comparable.

It's also important to note the census figures do not include government contracting, which continues to grow considerably for some functions of local government.


A few areas of government experienced significant historical shifts in employment. Yesterday's story examines changes in local library staffing levels.

Are there are any numbers or trends in the chart you find particularly interesting? Let us know in the comments section.

How estimates were compiled: Read the Census Bureau's methodology