Over the year to early 2020 the U.S. Census Bureau published data from the 2017 Census of Governments. I have tabulated it, created spreadsheets, tables and charts, and written posts that describe in great detail the full scope of state and local government activity, for all 50 states, New York City, the rest of New York State, every county in New York State and New Jersey, and comparable areas elsewhere. Not only for the latest Census of Governments for FY 2017 but also for FY 2007 and FY 1997, and (for selected data items and areas) every available year starting in FY 1972. Read the posts below, look at the tables and charts, and you will know more about state and local government in the United States today, and how it came to be as it is, than just about anyone.
The posts include analysis, tables and charts, focused on the differences between New York City and State and other places, but even more information is available in the spreadsheets linked below. Anyone could download the spreadsheets, use them to create new tables and charts, and write about state and local government from the point of view of some other place I have included for comparison. One could even reuse my charts, by dropping different data in the same locations.
This is essential background for anyone who works in, thinks about, or writes about state and local government in metropolitan New York, or elsewhere. I made a huge effort, for free and on my own time, to make the information available, and ask that people reward my effort by using it. There is no reason why anyone should know less than I do about state and local government.
The genesis of the spreadsheets below, and my role in tabulating them, dates back to a constitutional requirement. Back in 1989 New York City got a new constitution, which is to say a new City Charter. One of its stipulations was for the New York City Department of City Planning, where I had recently started working as a junior regional economist, to produce a series of charter-mandated documents – the Mayor’s Strategic Policy Statement and the City Planning Commission’s Planning and Zoning Report every four years, and the Annual Report on Social Indicators, every year. I was tasked with writing sections of these reports, notably the economics sections.
I was told that the purpose of the Annual Report on Social Indicators was for the City Council, newly endowed by the new Charter with budget powers that had previously been vested with the Board of Estimate, to receive information it could use as background for its budget deliberations. While searching the local Census Bureau library for data to include, I came upon the series produced by the Bureau’s governments division on the employment, payroll, revenues, expenditures and debts of state and local governments in the U.S. I started using the data in the report, and over the years became something of an expert on it, even contacting the Bureau with data problems when I found them. Most of the Census Bureau employees I corresponded with over the years have, by now, retired.
As I began to crunch and publish the numbers, comparing New York City first with the U.S. average and then with the rest of the state and other places, I was surprised few other people had. Moreover, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid created a Medicaid “datamart” to allow analyses of Medicaid spending by state, it required registration. I found I was the first person from New York State to have registered. No one else was interested.
Although I am no longer paid to compile this data, I have continued to do so since leaving City Planning in 2001, because I think it is important. Without place to place comparisons, one is always comparing this year’s spending and taxes with last year’s spending and taxes, for New York City and State in isolation. That’s a comparison with an ideology – that the winners and losers in New York’s governmental priorities should be fixed in place forever. Comparisons with other places, and with the national average, provide an alternative viewpoint. Just because it’s the national average does not make it right, because different places have different needs and characteristics. But large differences, in either direction, should be explained and justified rather than just continued by the divine right of those who come out ahead. After all, in New York City state and local government expenditures equal approximately one third of the total personal income of city residents. One out of three dollars we have passes through their hands.
One of my first post-government efforts was a graphical comparison, with spreadsheet attachments, put up by New York University’s Taub Urban Research Center in 2001. It was taken off that site after several years (though it is probably still on the internet somewhere), and was written about in this New York Times article.
The series of posts from late 2018 through, eventually 2020, taken together, are a more detailed equivalent of that effort nearly 20 years ago, complete with charts to summarize the more detailed information in spreadsheet tables. My data and posts here on Saying the Unsaid in New York are reference materials, not short term news, and are usable for a long period after they have been posted. On this page, therefore, the latest spreadsheets and links to those posts will remain in place, available to all, until they are replaced by new ones.
The spreadsheets and links, organized by data source, are below.
Census of Governments: State and Local Government Finance, Long Term Data For FY 1972 to 2016
My first effort for this cycle was another update to my tabulation by state, with New York City and the Rest of New York State compiled separately, of all available Census Bureau data on public employee pensions, state and local government debt, and past infrastructure construction expenditures. The purpose of this “long term” analysis is to compare the extent to which each state’s future has been “sold out” by the decisions of the past, relative to the current total personal income of that state’s residents. To get a jump on the process, I started it before state and local government finances data was available for FY 2017, and based it on data for FY 1972 to 2016.
A spreadsheet with the data as downloaded, tables, and charts is here.
The series of posts started with an overview of where the data came from and how it was tabulated, along with a national overview of the trends:
It was followed by more detailed state-by-state comparisons of state and local government debt and past infrastructure and education building construction expenditures:
And public employee pensions.
Culminating in the overall “Sold Out Future Ranking.”
The Intergenerational Foundation, which advocates for less well off later-born generations in the U.K., asked that I produce a summary of this analysis. A link to that summary, and some related posts, may be found here.
Public Elementary and Secondary School Finance: FY 2017, 2007 and 1997
The Census Bureau compiles more detailed data on elementary and secondary school finances every year than it does for other government functions, even in Census of Governments years. As part of this cycles total overview of state and local government activities, I compiled this data for FY 2017, 2007 and 1997 for New York City, other parts of New York State, New Jersey, and selected areas elsewhere, compared with the U.S. average.
The first post, which describes where the data comes from and how it was tabled, is here.
The spreadsheets include tables with data for every school district in New York and New Jersey, plus areas elsewhere, for FY 2017
Along with a comparison between those years for broad areas.
A post with an analysis of the data, complete with charts, is here.
And a spreadsheet with its charts is here.
The previous year’s analysis, which included the same information for FY 1996 to 2016, but also included summaries and analyses of additional articles and reports, was here.
And here is the analysis before.
Census of Governments State & Local Government Employment and Payroll Data for FY 2017, FY 2007 and FY 1997
The state and local government employment and Payroll data from the 2017 Census of Governments was released in mid-2019, and I compiled in and published a series of posts on it during the fall of 2019.
The first post described where the data comes from and how it was tabulated, and included tables with data for far more places that I could find time to write about and chart. The data for local governments is by county, and includes all local governments in each county, for a fair comparison with NYC. Many adjustments had to be made to get the data in a roughly comparable form. This process is described here.
And it includes links to spreadsheets with data for many state governments for FY 1997, 2007 and 2017:
FY 2017 local government employment and payroll data by function, along with related private sector data, for the U.S., regions of NY State, all counties in New York and New Jersey, and selected states and counties elsewhere for comparison, may be found here:
With identical spreadsheets for FY 2007
and FY 1997.
A simplified table compared data for NYC, other parts of NY State, the U.S. and nearby states for the three years.
A spreadsheet with the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Private sector employment and wages data I used for these spreadsheets is here.
A series of posts on individual government functions followed, each with their own reorganized tables and charts. It began with local government elementary and secondary school education.
Followed by public higher education.
With a separate spreadsheet to show of how much of public higher education expenditures were covered by tuition and fees over the years through FY 2016, with long term data for all 50 dates.
The Census of Governments employment and payroll data and charts on public safety functions.
Hospitals, social services and housing.
With an additional more detailed analysis of private sector data on the Nursing Home and Residential Care, Home Health Care, and Services for the Elderly Disabled industries employment.
Census of Governments employment and payroll data on “infrastructure” functions.
Parks and libraries.
And finally the general government functions I grouped together as “bureaucracy.”
Census of Governments: State & Local Government Finance Data for FY 2017, FY 2007, and FY 1997
The state and local government finance data from Census of Governments was released in late 2019, and I compiled it in early 2020. An explanation of where the data comes from and how it was tabulated is here.
I found errors as I re-tabulated the data to analyze individual functions. The final version of my spreadsheets may be found here. The first is on state government finances in FY 1997, 2007 and 2017.
Here is the spreadsheet state government data for all 50 states, local government data for all 50 states (with New York City and the rest of New York State separately as well), with adjusted data for all local governments within counties combined based on the “County Area” file, for the U.S., NYC, the Downstate Suburbs (Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam), the Upstate Urban Counties (Albany, Broome, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady), the rest of NY State, New Jersey, and Fairfield County. Along with every county in both New York and New Jersey, and selected other states and counties around the U.S. The data is in three worksheets that can be viewed using the tabs at the bottom: state, local, and county area. With the calculated data on top, with formulas anyone can see, and the raw data below.
The “panes” are frozen so one can move across the rows to different areas while keeping the U.S. average and the row titles to the left. The downloaded data is below the data per $1,000 of area residents’ personal income. You’ll see there are more date items on the bottom than I chose to include in the output tables at the top. But anyone could, if they wished, add a row and divide the data for an additional specific item by personal income, then copy and paste the formula across all the rows for comparison.
The spreadsheet for FY 2007 is identical; the output for 1997 is identical, but the raw data is different due to detailed categories eliminated in the 2006 manual.
For selected areas, I put the numbers for FY 1997, FY 2007 and FY 2017 next to each other in the same tables. For local government revenues and expenditures by state, and for county areas at the sub-state level.
A series of posts on individual subjects followed, including reorganized spreadsheets with charts and tables. I’ll include links to the posts, and links to allow the spreadsheets to be downloaded directly.
Stating with state and local government taxes, for all states and areas and in total for all years.
And other revenues, for all states and areas and then selected data for all years.
An overview of state and local government expenditures followed.
A specific post on Local Government Education, mostly about elementary and secondary schools but with some reference to community colleges, is here.
It was followed by a post on higher education, mostly about state colleges and universities.
The next post was on health care, a subject that from the state and local government spending point if view, is mostly about Medicaid.
Aid to the needy is a related subject, also including cash welfare, unemployment, housing and social services.
The services chronicled thus far are only relevant to specific populations, such as the young, old, and poor. The discussion of general services started with public safety.
Followed by posts on transportation infrastructure.
And other infrastructure.
A post on public amenities and vices included data on parks, libraries and natural resources.
And a post on the bureaucracy included the legal system, elected officials, and those whose job it ought to be to provide comprehensive, accurate and fair-minded information like this to the public.
I concluded my analysis of 2017 Census of Governments data with a graphic summary.
Annual Data: State and Local Government Finance
In addition to the Census of Governments every five years, the Census Bureau produces estimates of state and local revenues, expenditures and debt for the U.S. and the states (almost) every year. Using “individual” unit data for New York City local government in the rest of New York State can be estimated for subtraction. Here is the introductory post with the data for the most recent year, FY 2014 with a comparison with FY 2004.
Here is a spreadsheet with state and local government revenue and expenditure tables for all 50 states, with New York City and the Rest of New York State separately for local government.
Additional posts using that data follow (links forward are at the end of the post), on taxes, other revenues, an overview of expenditure, education, health care and assistance to the needy, the uniformed services, infrastructure, parks and libraries, and bureaucracy. Each has a spreadsheet with a table of FY 2014 data on the subject for all 50 states, along with all the charts in the post.
Annual Data: State and Local Government Employment
As in the case of state and local government finance, the Census Bureau publishes annual estimates of state and local government employment. Since the government often provides public services by contracting with businesses or non-profits, my tabulation of the data also includes related private employment. The I compiled that for March 2014, and I tabulated it with a comparison with March 2002 — the start and end of the administration of former Mayor Mike Bloomberg in New York. The first post in the series, with background on how I tabulate the annual state and local government employment and payroll data, is here.
And one can follow along my analysis of that data, complete with charts, but linking to the next one at the bottom of each. The spreadsheet with the data as downloaded, tables and charts, is here.
Public Employee Pension Data
While public employee pensions are covered in the finance phase of the Census of Governments and related annual datasets, they are also covered by a separate Census Bureau tabulation on public pension funds alone. A link to a post with background on and an analysis of this data, and a spreadsheet with state-level data for FY 2012, FY 2002, and FY 1993 follows.
I have also compiled a detailed database with all the information the U.S. Census Bureau has collected on currently active public employee pension funds in New York State and New Jersey, including those of New York City, from 1957 to the present. A spreadsheet with the latest version of that database may be found here.
The first in a series of posts using the data to analyze the individual pension funds is linked below.
The others follow, with specific spreadsheets on general pension funds
And police and fire.
New York City Budget Data
During most recent years, I have tabulated data specifically on the New York City Budget, with changes in spending by function, using tables from budget documents from the city’s Office of Management and Budget. The OMB does not provide comparable data for past years, but I have it saved from past analyses. The most recent post using this data is here.
And here is the spreadsheet with its tables and charts.
Medicaid Statistical Information System (MSIS) State Summary Datamart
Data used to be available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid on Medicaid expenditures and beneficiaries by state. The most recent year for which I compiled that data was 2011. I downloaded one spreadsheet on Medicaid spending and beneficiaries by type of service.
And one file on Medicaid spending and beneficiaries by age group.
The first post discussing this data is here.
It explains where the data came from and how it was compiled. Two additional post followed, based on the two spreadsheets.
As of mid-2019, the latest data that has been made available by state is for FY 2012. The new system that replaced MSIS, TMISIS, has “no public facing data.
National Transit Database
My most recent posts based on data on mass transit finance from the National Transit Database are here:
Metro New York transit agencies are compared with those elsewhere. A spreadsheet with tables of 2015 data for major transit agencies around the country is here.
A spreadsheet with 1991 to 2015 data for metro New York transit agencies used to make charts is here.
I had hoped that when the New York Times used this data for a series of articles on the decline of the NYC subway, that others would follow its lead and start repeating the analysis every year, and releasing it to the public.
They have not, so I published this brief update in early 2020.
Historical Overview of Federal Finance and U.S. Debts
Finally, while most of my expertise is in comparative state and local finance, I have done a compilation of the federal budget for each of the past three federal elections. The data includes revenues and expenditures by category, and debts, as a share of GDP each year for decades.
The spreadsheet is here.
And the first post in the series is here.
With other posts to follow on federal revenues.
A separate spreadsheet shows all U.S. debts – federal, state, local, business, household, financial – over the years. Recently, I’ve been analyzing this data each year. The most recent spreadsheet is here.
And the most recent analysis of debt and our economy is here.