Our chapter on federalism notes the large number of governments in the United States. The Census Bureau reports:
The U.S. Census Bureau today released preliminary counts of local governments as the first component of the 2012 Census of Governments.
In 2012, 89,004 local governments existed in the United States, down from 89,476 in the last census of governments conducted in 2007. Local governments included 3,031 counties (down from 3,033 in 2007), 19,522 municipalities (up from 19,492 in 2007), 16,364 townships (down from 16,519 in 2007), 37,203 special districts (down from 37,381 in 2007) and 12,884 independent school districts (down from 13,051 in 2007).
Among the key findings in the 2012 Census of Governments preliminary counts:
- Illinois leads the nation with 6,968 local governments -- approximately 2,000 more
- Hawaii has 21 local governments, the fewest of any state.
- Texas remains first in the nation with the most independent school districts at 1,079. Closely behind is California, with 1,025 independent school districts.
- Seventeen states had more special districts compared with 2007, and 29 had fewer. Five states (including the District of Columbia) had no change.
- Ten states had fewer townships because of mergers and consolidations. Kansas decreased the most, moving from 1,353 in 2007 to 1,268 in 2012, a decrease of 85.