The Midwest is home to nearly 40,000 local governments


Illinois is home to 6,963 local governments, more than any other in the nation. Pictured: The Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. (Credit: AP/Seth Perlman.)

The Midwest is home to more local governments per state than any other region.

With an average 3,332 local governments per state, the Midwest eclipses the second-ranked Northeast, which is home to an average 1,494 local governments per state, according to a new Census report. The West was home to an average 1,274 governments per state, while the South was home to 1,181. Midwestern states were home to 39,979 local governments even though its home to a much smaller share of the population than is the South.


The Midwest had more governments per state on average than any other region. (Source: Census.)

We wrote about these numbers before, but it turns out there were actually a few more local governments last year than the Census initially estimated. All told, there were 90,106 state and local governments.

But some context is in order. It’s worth noting that there are 22.9 percent fewer governments than there were in 1952. Though the number did grow over the past five years by 0.6 percent.

The Midwest, for its part, shed 1.1 percent of its local governments from 2007 to 2012. Maryland’s count grew by 35.4 percent, proportionally more than any other state, to 348 state and local governments.

And, since 1952, the number of governments has more than doubled in six states: Alaska (263 percent), Delaware (215 percent), New Mexico (199 percent), Florida (168 percent), Alabama (121 percent), and Tennessee (111 percent).

Census notes two broad trends since 1952: a decline in school districts and a rise in special districts—those which often serve very limited functions such as utility districts, water and sewer districts and transit authorities.

The number of special districts grew more than threefold from 12,340 in 1952 to 38,266 in 2012. The number of independent school districts is now roughly one-fifth of its former self: having fallen from 67,355 to 12,880 units.


(Source: Census.)

(Source: Census.)
Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.

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