Accounting for Special District Governments in the U.S. National Accounts (PDF)

Special district governments are a type of local government that may embody characteristics of both governments and private businesses and are an important source of public services. Given the combined characteristics of special districts and their economic importance, a complete and consistent economic accounting for special districts that operate like businesses – special district enterprises – is important to the relevance and accuracy of the U.S. national accounts. In this paper, we present a preliminary set of economic accounts for special district enterprises using two different approaches for identifying special district enterprises: by unit and by function. Our results suggest that the identification of enterprises by function rather than by unit yields differences in key economic accounting aggregates. Our results also suggest that some functions currently treated as enterprise functions under the U.S. national accounts existing methodology do not fit the SNA criteria for treatment as quasi-corporations. We conclude that identification of enterprises by function may be preferable to identification by unit because the sample selection is more precise. Based on identification by function, measured value-added for enterprises in 2012 is $33.2 billion, of which $16.7 billion reflects compensation and $16.5 billion reflects operating surplus.


Melissa J. Braybrooks , Tina Highfill , and Dylan Rassier

JEL Code(s) E01 Published