The Most Recent Public Finance Analyses, Charts and Tables

Over the year to early 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau published data from the 2012 Census of Governments and I tabulated it, putting together databases, and publishing posts.  As a result this page now contains a full, detailed overview of state and local government revenues, expenditures, debt, employment and payroll, all adjusted to be comparable across the country, for New York City, every other part of New York State and New Jersey, and comparable states and areas elsewhere.  The data is not only for FY 2012, but also for FY 2002, FY 1992, and other past years.  In 2016 and 2017 I updated the analysis with state level data for FY 2014, compared with FY 2004, two economically comparable years, using the less geographically detailed data collected between Census of Governments years.

The posts include analysis and charts, but even more information is available in the spreadsheets linked below.

This is essential background for anyone who works in, thinks about, or writes about state and local government in metropolitan New York.  I made a huge effort, 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.

How much should people concern themselves with this data, and with the New York State legislators and New York City council members who pass the budgets that have decided what the data show?  Consider this.  In FY 2010, the money New York City local governments (including the Port Authority and New York City Transit) directly spent equaled 20.8% of all of the personal income earned by all New York City residents.  Of that amount, the equivalent of 12.8% of the income of city residents was extracted directly from city residents and others spending time here in taxes, fees, fines and other revenues, with the equivalent of 8.0% coming from the federal government and the State of New York (with some of the state money originating with the federal government).  The State of New York exercises indirect control over the entire 20.8% of everyone’s income that is spent by the city and other local governments, and also directly spends the equivalent of 12.8% of the income of state residents.  Taken together, New York City’s state and local governments spent the equivalent of about one-third of everything New York City residents earn.  On public services and benefits that are, or can be, absolutely essential, but which neither the city and state nor those who work for it have any contractual obligation to provide with any quality.

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 over the past year are, taken together, a more detailed equivalent of that effort nearly 15 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

I begin with the finance data from the most recent Census of Governments, in 2012.  My first post, including an explanation of where the data comes from and how it was compiled, is located here.

Here is the spreadsheet 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, Putman), 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.

Census Local Gov Finance 2012 By County

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.

Here is a smaller spreadsheet set up to print (though I can’t guarantee what your spreadsheet program with do with it), with local government data for NYC, aggregated other regions of NY State, the U.S., NJ and Fairfield County CT alone, and without the source data.

Census Local Gov Finance 2012 NY-NJ

The next spreadsheet includes detailed local government revenue and expenditure data for every state in the country, from the Census Bureau’s “statetypepu.txt” file, tabulated the same way, with all state government transit and public school spending included as local government. And state government revenue and expenditure data from that same file tabulated for every state as well (note the two tabs on the bottom – state and local).

Census State and Local Gov Finance By State Detail

In the state government worksheet, major spending categories generally carried out directly by state governments are in bold, and taxpayer and employee pension contributions for state and local pensions combined are expressed as a percentage of wages and salaries.

For comparisons with the past, these two spreadsheets provide local government data for the county areas for 1992 and 2002.

Census Local Gov Finance 1992 By County

Census Local Gov Finance 2002 By County

And for an easier comparison, this spreadsheet has local government revenue and expenditure data for FY 1992, 2002 and 2012 for the U.S. total, NYC, other regions of NY State, New Jersey and Fairfield County. It is also set up to print.

Census Local Gov Finance 1992-02-2012 NY-NJ

Here is a spreadsheet of state government revenues and expenditures for 1992, 2002 and 2012 for the U.S. as a whole, New York State, New Jersey, and selected other states.

State Finance Census of Governments 92 02 12

The posts on individual subjects such as state and local taxes or infrastructure spending included reorganized spreadsheets with data for every state in the country, every county in New York State and New Jersey, and selected counties elsewhere.  Often these spreadsheets include several tables and the charts used in the associated posts, which can be viewed by clicking on the tabs at the bottom.  The posts can be read, starting with taxes, by clicking the link to the next one at the bottom.

Here are spreadsheets specifically on:

State and local government taxes

Tax All State and County

Local government education expenditures

Local Education All State

Public higher education

Higher Education All State

Aid to the needy (welfare, social services, health care, unemployment)

Health & Social Services AllState

Uniformed services (police, fire, sanitation, corrections)

Uniforms All State


Infrastructure All State

Parks and Libraries

Amenities All State

Bureaucracy and General Government

Bureaucracy All State

I concluded my analysis of 2012 Census of Governments data with a tabulation of how much each state’s future has been impaired by past decisions on debt, capital construction investments, and pensions.  The analysis was summed to a “sold out future ranking” by state, and for New York City and the rest of New York State separately, as discussed in this post

A large, 1.6 MB spreadsheet with debt, pension, payroll, interest, and capital construction data for all 50 states over 40 years, plus NYC and the rest of NY State separately, is here.

Debt Constr Pension ALL-YEAR COG12-2

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.



Census of Governments:  State and Local Government Employment and Payroll

The Census of Governments also includes an employment phase, with data on state and local government employment and payroll.   Here is the background on how I tabulated it, and the spreadsheets for 1992, 2002, 2012, and 2007.

1992 Census of Governments Employment by County and State Spreadsheet

2002 Census of Governments Employment by County and State Spreadsheet

2007 Census of Governments Employment by County NY NJ Selected Others Spreadsheet

2012 Census of Governments Employment by County and State Spreadsheet

State Employment Census of Governments Spreadsheet, State Government data for 1992, 2002, 2012

My analysis of the latest data took a graphic form on this site in April 2014.  The first post in the series was this one.

Subsequent posts examine different types of public employment separately, starting with the public schools.

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 most recent data is from 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.

Local-State Gov Emp 2014


Census Bureau Public Elementary–Secondary Education Finance Data

Separately from its main data series, the Census Bureau also compiles specific data on elementary and secondary education in great detail.  Helpfully, this data includes the number of students for the calculation of per student revenues and expenditures, includes the pension contributions and fringe benefits of education workers in total expenditures, and provides detailed data on spending on different education services, such as instructional, administration, school buses, custodians, etc.  In the most recent year, I analyzed data for FY 2012, FY 2002, and FY 1992.  Background on how I tabulate the data, and the spreadsheet for those years and comparisons between them, are below.

The spreadsheets:

Census Education Finance FY 12 All Unit Output

Census Education Finance FY02 All Unit Output

Census Education Finance FY92 All Unit Output

Census Public School Finance Per Student FY02-12

Census Public School Finance Per Student FY92-02

My analysis of this data, with charts, began with this post.

This data is updated annually.   The latest data for FY 2016 was compiled here.

I compared the most recent year with FY 1996.   My analysis 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.

Census Pension Data 2012 2002 1992

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.

Pension Data Long Term NY NJ

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

Long Term General Pension Charts NYC NY NJ


Long Term Teacher Pension Charts NYC NY NJ

And police and fire.

Long Term Police-Fire Pension Charts NYC NJ Etc


Medicaid Statistical Information System (MSIS) State Summary Datamart

Data is available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid on Medicaid expenditures and beneficiaries by state.  The most recent year for which data was available was 2011.  I downloaded one spreadsheet on Medicaid spending and beneficiaries by type of service.

Medicaid By Service 2001 and 2011

And one file on Medicaid spending and beneficiaries by age group.

Medicaid by Age And State 2001 and 2011

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-2016, the data has not been updated for some time.

National Transit Database

My most recent posts based on data on mass transit finance from the National Transit Database are here:

and 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.


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.

Overview of Historic Federal Finance to 2014

And the first post in the series is here.

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 spreadsheet is here.

Total Credit Market Debt Outstanding Stat Abst

And the most recent analysis of debt and our economy is here.




10 thoughts on “The Most Recent Public Finance Analyses, Charts and Tables

  1. Pingback: State and Local Government Finance: Census Bureau Data for FY2014 Compared with FY 2004 | Saying the Unsaid in New York

  2. Pingback: Furbos and Fessos | Saying the Unsaid in New York

  3. Pingback: New York City’s FY 2017 Budget Proposal: More for Those Who Have More Leaves Less for Those Who Have Less | Saying the Unsaid in New York

  4. Pingback: State and Local Government Employment: Census Bureau Data for FY 2014 Compared With FY 2002 | Saying the Unsaid in New York

  5. Pingback: The Mets Are New York’s Team, According To State and Local Government Finance Data | Saying the Unsaid in New York

  6. larrylittlefield Post author

    Strange that I’m being cited on Al Jazzera, of all places. Then again, WordPress tells me that some of those who read my posts are from outside the U.S. Why I don’t know. I guess everyone is interested in NYC.

  7. microsrfr

    I have read your comment on the connection between debt and inequality on the Al Jazeera blog. Since I cannot comment there, I wish to share a few thoughts here. It has always been the principal and overriding task of CEO’s to maximize profit. The ongoing technological revolution, which began in the early 1970’s, has enabled reduction in labor costs through automation and outsourcing. As the resulting wage squeeze hit workers, credit growth was needed to supplement flagging wage-based demand for goods and services. The Federal Reserve and Treasury not only drove interest rates to zero to keep our economy afloat, they also looked the other way when increasingly riskier credit was being created by people like Countrywide. When the bottom fell out in 2007/8, the Federal Reserve, who is not permitted to create capital, swapped $10 trillion of treasury notes for an equivalent amount of toxic mortgage assets at face value.

    Since 1972, payrolls as a percentage of GDP have dropped from 52% to 42% due to technological advances. It is clear that this is not sustainable and that the next collapse could be much worse than 2008 and may not be able to be contained by drastic Federal Reserve action. On the other hand, such an event may be necessary, as it was in 1933, for those in power to come to their senses and realize that all will lose unless we make a fundamental change in our political/economic system. In its simplest form, such a change would take the form of a constitutional amendment that ensures that US workers receive at least the 50% of GDP that was the case during our healthiest economic growth period from 1950 to 1972. For more details, see

  8. Pingback: Census of Governments Public Employment Data: Comparative Data for NY, NJ, and the U.S. | Saying the Unsaid in New York

  9. Pingback: The 2012 Census of Governments: Some Work, Some Knowledge | Saying the Unsaid in New York

  10. Pingback: Local Government Revenues in FY 2011 | Saying the Unsaid in New York

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