Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll (ASPEP) 1992-2016

Resource Type
Dataset : administrative records data, survey data
  • Kaplan, Jacob (University of Pennsylvania)
Publication Date
Free Keywords
ASPEP; public employees; payroll; government pay; government employees; Annuel Survey of Public Employment and Payroll
  • Abstract

    Version 5 release notes:
    • Fix bug in county-level data where missing data values (e.g. 99999999) were not replaced with NA.
    Version 4:
    • Adds a new data set which has aggregated county-level data for years 1993-2016. There is no data for 1996. These data combine all jurisdiction (e.g. cities, county government) in a county to get the sum values for all included variables.
    • Each jurisdiction includes a sample weight (the reciprocal of the "probability of selection" that is included in the data). I multiplied all values by this weight before aggregating to the county level.
    • According to the ASPEP documentation by the Census Bureau, "A census [of governments] is conducted every five years (years ending in ‘2’ and ‘7’). A sample of state and local governments is used to collect data in the intervening years. A new sample is selected every five years (years ending in ‘4’ and ‘9’)."
    • The variables included are the following (also included, but unlisted, are geographic and year identifier variables).
    • Government function (e.g. police, firefighters, waste management)
    • Number of full-time employees
    • Number of full-time equivalent employees
    • Number of full-time hours
    • Full-time employee payroll (for a single month; October for 1992-1996, March otherwise)
    • Number of part-time employees
    • Number of part-time hours
    • Part-time employee payroll (for a single month; October for 1992-1996, March otherwise).
    • Equivalent employees are defined by the Technical Documentation for 1992-2001 Survey Years file as "A computed statistic representing the number of full-time employees that could have been employed if the reported number of hours worked by part-time employees had been worked by full-time employees."
    Version 3:
    • Fixes a bug for years 1998 and 1999 where column names were not standardized properly.

    The Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll (ASPEP) is a Census data set with information about public (local, state, and federal government) employees, This data includes the total number of employees (broken between full-time and part-time), their total pay, and the total number of hours part-time workers worked. This is broken by job categories such as Hospital, Public Welfare, Firefighters, and Police.

    There are three types of data for each year: Local, State, State and Local. Local includes only local government employees, State includes only state employees, and State and Local combines the two. When the data is downloaded from the Census (, each year is an individual file. The data here offers each year individually (cleaned and raw) as well as a file that combines all the years for each type.

    Data is available for years 1992-1995 and 1997-2016. 1996 data is not available. The State data also does not include years 1994-1995. Local, and State and Local do not include 1992. All of the code for downloading and cleaning the data is available on GitHub here.

    The zip files available to download contain the raw data, the clean data, and combined data set (all years combined into one file) and a codebook for that combined data set.

    The raw data is the file downloaded from the Census website with no changes. The clean data changes the column names, state names, and job categories to be consistent over the years. The change in state names is from the full name to the state abbreviation.

    Details about the ASPEP are here.

    Important info about samples within the data:
    "There was no Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll for 1996. The base reporting period for measuring employment and payrolls was changed from October to March. This change became effective with the 1997 Census of Governments. A census is conducted every five years (years ending in ‘2’ and ‘7’). A sample of state and local governments is used to collect data in the intervening years. A new sample is selected every five years (years ending in ‘4’ and ‘9’)."

Temporal Coverage
  • 1992-01-01 / 2016-12-31
    Time Period: Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 1992--Sat Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 2016
Geographic Coverage
  • Local, County, State, and Federal Government
Sampled Universe
Public employees in the United States.
. Smallest Geographic Unit: County
This study is freely available to the general public via web download.
  • Is version of
    DOI: 10.3886/E101399

Update Metadata: 2020-12-21 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2020-12-21