California remains among the nation's cellar dwellers in its ratio of state and local government employees to residents, according to a new analysis by the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. Meanwhile, state workers here are, on average, the highest-paid.
The Golden State was fifth from the bottom in its number of full-time equivalent state and local government employees relative to population: 476 workers per 10,000 state residents. Nevada had the fewest (420 per 10,000) followed by Arizona (433), Mississippi (462) and Pennsylvania (465). Texas ranked No. 1 with 565 state and local government employees per 10,000 residents, 8 percent above the national average of 525.
The state and local job estimates include public school employees on payrolls in March 2011 before the latest rounds of budget cuts and layoffs that have befallen school districts. The center matched the employment figures with the July state population data released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Taking city workers and other locals out of the picture, California had 108 state employees for every 10,000 residents, the fifth-lowest ratio in the nation. Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Nevada ranked lower. The state employee ratio can be misleading, however, because no two states divide their responsibilities with local governments the same way.
California's state worker salaries averaged $70,777 per year, the highest in the country, according to the center's analysis. Still, state salary costs equaled
1.6 1.8 cents of every dollar of state residents' personal income, or one-tenth of a percentage point below the U.S. average. Translation: California tends to pay state workers more than their counterparts elsewhere, but it costs individual taxpayers less than in many states.