Township (United States) - Census Statistics

Census Statistics

Towns and townships are considered minor civil divisions of counties by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes. According to the Census Bureau, in 2002, town or township government applied to 16,504 organized governments in the following 20 states:

  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

This categorization includes governmental units officially designated as "towns" in the New England states, New York, and Wisconsin, some plantations in Maine and locations in New Hampshire. In Minnesota, the terms town and township are used interchangeably with regard to township governments. Although towns in the six New England states and New York, and townships in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, are legally termed municipal corporations, perform municipal-type functions, and frequently serve densely populated urban areas, they have no necessary relation to concentration of population, and are thus counted for census purposes as town or township governments. Even in states beyond New England, townships often serve urbanized areas and provide municipal services typically provided by incorporated municipalities.

The count of 16,504 organized township governments does not include unorganized township areas (where the township may exist in name only, but has no organized government) or where the townships are coextensive with cities and the cities have absorbed the township functions. It also does not include the townships in Iowa, (see Iowa townships) which are not separate governments, but are classified as subordinate agencies of county governments.

Of the 16,504 town or township governments, only 1,179 (7.1 percent) had as many as 10,000 inhabitants in the 2000 census and 52.4 percent of all towns or townships had fewer than 1000 inhabitants. There was a decline in the number of town or township governments from 16,629 in 1997 to 16,504 in 2002. Nearly all of the decline involved townships in the Midwest.

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