Finance Employees Are Fastest Growing Segment of Local Government Workforce

While most local governments haven’t been on hiring sprees lately, one area where they appear to be adding employees is finance, according to newly released data from the United States Census Bureau.

According to Governing:

The latest data from the Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll shows that employees working in finance-related roles increased 5.4 percent between 2014 and 2017. While that might not be a big jump, it’s significant in that it’s the highest of any workforce category tracked in the Census survey.

Finance jobs peaked in 2008, subsequently declined as governments made recession-era cuts and then changed little until 2016. Since then, they’ve expanded at roughly double the rate of total local public-sector employment when education jobs are excluded. Other areas of local government experiencing noticeable growth, albeit at a slower pace, include transit, fire departments, parks and recreation.


There’s no single explanation for the increase, but greater professionalization of public finance could be a driving factor. The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) reports a significant increase in the number of people taking exams for its certified public finance officer program. Over the past three years, an annual average of 438 people took exams, about 200 more than prior years.

Local government staffing is often driven by its shared responsibilities with states, so a greater burden on localities could result in a shift from states to their local public workforces as well. The trend does not appear to be affecting hiring in state governments, though — at least nationally. Total state government financial administration employment remained essentially unchanged over the three-year period ending last year, according to the survey data.

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