Despite California’s Legendary Public Sector Bloat, Government Employment Ranks Low

Thursday, October 04, 2012

California has long stood as a symbol of government bureaucratic sprawl, especially for conservatives who condemn its cost, its overzealous regulatory activities and its waste.

However, judging by the state’s number of government employees, that might not be a fair image. Only four states had a lower ratio of government workers compared to population than California as of March 2011, according to U.S. Census numbers crunched by the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

The average ratio in the country was 140 state employees for every 10,000 residents. California had 108, 23% below the national average. Florida was the lowest at 97, followed by Illinois (102), Nevada (103) and Arizona (106).

California was still the fifth lowest when you add in educators by grouping state and local government employees. The national average was 525 employees per 10,000 residents. California had 467, 11% below average. Nevada was the lowest at 420, followed by Arizona (433), Mississippi (462) and Pennsylvania (465).

The state had 501 employees per 10,000 in 2007, before the economy fell apart.

California ranks even lower in K-12 employee ratio to population. Census numbers from 2010 indicate the state was second from the bottom, with 170 education employees per 10,000 residents, compared to the national average of 215. Texas ranks as highest in the country with 274 employees, 27% of the national average.

When people aren’t complaining about too many public workers, they are complaining about their compensation. California did rank #1 in the country in 2011 in salaries for state employees, $70,777, compared to the national average of $54,976.

But when you take into consideration the state’s higher cost of living and compare public employee pay to the state’s overall personal income, California’s rank is below average at #35.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

California Near Bottom in Government Workers-to-Residents Ratio, Tops in Pay (by Jon Ortiz, Sacramento Bee)

State and Local Government Employees: Where Does California Rank—2011 Update (Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy) (pdf)

Leave a comment