The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 31, 2011
From the notebook: Patrol and correctional pay nationwide

We never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users data, notes and quotes from the notebook that informed what we published.

Our story in today's cyber/fiber Bee looks at the long-running competition between California's correctional officers and Highway Patrol officers for pay and respect. The story includes a chart that shows the current pay ranges for each occupation.

Several readers have called and e-mailed with the same question this morning: How much do people in other states earn for similar work?

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks that data, although it lumps local jobs with state jobs. The patrol class is part of police and sheriff's data. Correctional officers are grouped with local jailers. 

Depending on your point of view, it's a helpful comparison or an overbroad survey that fails to take into account factors such as California's relatively higher cost of living.

Here are a couple of BLS data tables that capture May 2010 pay, the most current information available. Clicking the links opens more tables and maps, on everything from metro area statistics to the national mean and median wages for each job group.

Top paying states for correctional officers and jailers:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
New Jersey 11,340 3.01 0.84 $32.01 $66,590
California 44,120 3.15 0.88 $31.49 $65,500
New York 34,310 4.11 1.14 $27.15 $56,480


2,760 2.48 0.69 $26.81 $55,760
Illinois 11,990 2.17 0.60 $24.86 $51,700

Top-paying states for police and sheriff's patrol officers:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage 
New Jersey 22,830 6.06 1.20 $38.13 $79,300
California 75,730 5.41 1.07 $37.16 $77,290
District of Columbia NA NA NA $32.48 $67,560
Illinois 30,110 5.45 1.07 $32.06 $66,680
Nevada 4,790 4.30 0.85 $31.66 $65,840

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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