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Annual Survey of State Government Finances

While many people are familiar with the United States Census every 10 years as mandated by the Constitution, over 100 different surveys are conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau each year. SBB Research Group summarizes vital information from about these lesser-known—but significant—surveys in this educational series.

What is the Annual Survey of State Government Finances?

The survey provides detailed information on the finances of state governments and has been collected annually since 1951. Each year the Census Bureau collects detailed, standardized data from each state. The Census Bureau merges the data to create tables that outline different revenue sources, expenditures, indebtedness, and assets. However, the Bureau suggests using caution when making conclusions from direct comparisons of states’ financial data since the survey does not consider local governments and is designed for statistical analysis, not an accounting statement.

Below is a sample of survey data from 2019 and 2022:

  • Across the 50 states, the average total revenue increased by 5.46%.

    • 1st: Wisconsin (71.36% increase)

    • 50th: New Mexico (5.83% decrease)

  • Functions that contributed to the total revenue increase included:

    • Intergovernmental revenue: 19.56%

    • Insurance trust revenue: 7.89%

    • Sales tax: 1.41%

  • Revenue from non-sales taxes decreased by 2.49%.

    • Corporate income tax: -12.85%

    • Individual income tax: -5.59%

  • Expenditures also increased by 7.61%.

    • Insurance Payments to Beneficiaries: 28.46%

    • Public Health: 11.41%

    • Hospitals: 7.56%

    • Education: 6.45%

    • Corrections: 6.27%

How is the Data Used?

The U.S. Congress, federal agencies, state and local governments, and educational and research organizations use these data to conduct policy research and understand general income accounts in states. For example, agencies and organizations use these data to examine which expenditure and revenue sources received the most funding and the change over time. Policymakers use this information to propose alternative spending or policy initiatives. The Census Bureau annually publishes a detailed overview of state budgets.


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