States With Most Government Employees: Totals and Per Capita Rates

Nationally, state and local governments employed about 7.4 million full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in 2014. That's approximately 232 public employees for every 10,000 Americans, according to Governing calculations of Census survey data. Including teachers and those working in education, the total more than doubles to about 16.2 million public employees (excluding federal government) nationwide.

Across states, government employment statistics vary greatly. Unique circumstances tend to account for high or very low concentrations of public employment. Wyoming, for example, employs the most public employees per capita largely due to the public hospitals that it operates. It's followed by Alaska, which has far more natural resources and highways workers than other states.

The following table lists numbers of state and local full-time equivalent (FTE) employees per 10,000 residents. Education employment accounts for roughly half the workforce, so it’s excluded from these calculations. How responsibilities are divided between states and their localities varies considerably, so combined state and local government employment provides for a more comprehensive measure than totals for only state government.

Figures represent aggregate totals for noneducation public employees. See note below.
Governing calculations of U.S. Census Bureau 2014 Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll data

Public Employment by Job Classification

Select a state to view per capita numbers of government workers and public payroll spending given a state's total personal income for each government function. National 50-state averages are shown for comparison.

Data notes:

  • Data are not intended to measure government efficiency or quality of public services.
  • Read an explanation of factors behind variations in public employment.
  • Figures do not reflect federal employees or contract workers. The Census survey data also excludes unpaid public officials, volunteers and those who work on a fee basis.
  • Definitions describing job classification types shown are available in the Census Bureau’s classification manual, beginning on page 373.
  • Payroll amounts, which cover only the month of March 2014, reflect salaries, wages, fees, commissions and overtime before withholdings. They do not include health insurance, retirement and other benefits.


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