Today’s Buffalo News reports (on its front page, no less) the recently-launched website SeeThroughNY, which provides bunches of information on New York State government spending – when you can get on the site.  It’s a little busy right now, and running really slow, but it’s a nice, clean-looking site that I’ll be perusing from time to time.

What caught my eye in the article was not the description of the website but this remark:

Praised by government watchdog roups, the Empire Center’s Web site includes the entire payroll – more than 263,000 names – of workers in the state’s executive branch, Legislature and judiciary.

263,000 state employees, not including schools?  And that’s just government at the state level!  That’s one state worker for every 73 state residents.  So that got me thinking about where New York ranks in public employees versus other states.  From the 2006 census, my state is, surprisingly, 42nd in public employees per capita but fourth in average state salary ($57K/year); only California, Connecticut and New Jersey have higher average salaries.  I guess we do a pretty good job – relative to other states – of limiting state employment.  I would not have believed this had I not dug into the census site.  Granted, some states (like New York) also have significant other layers of government and some states don’t, but I was still surprised at the numbers.

I would like to know the total number of public employees per state.  To do this I’ll have to dig into local and county government census data as well, not an easy task.  I’ll post more quantitative results whenever I get around to it.


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