How many governments are there?
Governing bodies run the gamut from the super large to extra tiny, but according to a report in The Washington Post, when averaged, there is one government unit for every 3,566 people in America.
Pulled from U.S. Census numbers, the report found that in 2012 there were 89,055 official government units in the country. Official government units include federal, state, county, city, town, school district or special-purpose districts.
Overall, the number of governments is down from where it was in the past decades, according to The Washington Post report. In 1942, there were 155,116 governments. That number fell to an all-time low of 78,000 in 1972. The number has been growing steadily since, but recent census numbers show a decline. Here is the breakdown:
Counties (Down): 3,033 3,031
Municipalities (Up): 19,492 19,522
Townships (Down): 16,519 16,364
Special districts (Down): 37,381 37,203
Independent school districts (Down): 13,051 12,884
A decline in the number of school districts played a role in the overall reduction, during the 1950s and on, according to the report. An increase in the number of special districts – such as housing authorities and library districts – has contributed to recent growth.
State-wise, Illinois had the most governments last year, with 6,969. Pennsylvania was next with 4,906 followed by Texas with 4,785, according to The Washington Post report. The states with the fewest governing bodies were Hawaii with 22, Rhode Island with 135 and Alaska with 178, according to census data.
View the report here.