The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 3, 2012
California near bottom in government workers-to-residents ratio, tops in pay

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.

Numbers in the News, Sept 2012 -- Where Does California Rank 2011

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

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


Now on the State Worker column

State Pay Database

This database allows you to search the salaries of California's 300,000-plus state workers and view up to four years of their pay history.


October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Monthly Archives