States With the Most Government Employees

10. North Carolina
> Pct. working for government: 18.1%
> Median household income: $43,916 (12th lowest)
> Unemployment: 9.4% (5th highest)

Approximately 8.6% of the North Carolina workforce was employed by the state’s government, the eighth-highest percentage of all states. In addition, the federal government employs more than 5% of North Carolina workers, among the top third of all states. The state is home to eight military bases, including Fort Bragg, the Army’s largest post in terms of population. Between December 2008 and December 2012, government employment fell by roughly 16,000 jobs in the state. But that number was still up by nearly 60,000 from 2003.

9. Washington
> Pct. working for government: 19.0%
> Median household income: $56,835 (12th highest)
> Unemployment: 7.5% (21st highest)

Nearly 6% of the workforce in Washington was employed by the federal government, the sixth-highest percentage of all states. The state is home to numerous ports of entry between the United States and Canada, as well as sea ports transferring goods in and out of the country. In addition, 8% of all employees in Washington work for the state government, the 10th highest percentage of all states.

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8. Mississippi
> Pct. working for government: 19.1%
> Median household income: $36,919 (the lowest)
> Unemployment: 8.9% (7th highest)

Government employs 9.2% of Mississippi’s workforce, one of the highest percentages of all states. In Jackson, Mississippi’s largest city and the state capital, nearly 24% of the workforce was in the public sector in 2011, according to the Census Bureau. A mere 10.4% of government workers in the state were unionized in 2012, lower than all but three states and well below the 37% of government workers who were unionized across the country. The low government unionization levels in the state could be a factor in depressed wages. Mississippi’s median income of just $36,919 in 2011 was the lowest in the entire country.

7. Louisiana
> Pct. working for government: 19.9%
> Median household income: $41,734 (7th lowest)
> Unemployment: 5.6% (12th lowest)

Louisiana is one of the largest energy-producing states in the nation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), and many workers are employed to manage the environmental costs. Louisiana has a Department of Environmental Quality, a Department of Natural Resources and a Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office. In addition to energy, prisons also drive the number of government jobs higher. According to a report by The Times-Picayune, Louisiana is the world’s “prison capital” due to the high number of people behind bars, as well as the growth of a prison industry that generates jobs and profits. In all, 8% of workers were employed by the state government and 6.1% by the local governments — both among the highest proportions in the United States.

6. West Virginia
> Pct. working for government: 20.8%
> Median household income: $38,482 (2nd lowest)
> Unemployment: 7.4% (22nd highest)

In West Virginia, a nation-leading 11.4% of all workers are state government employees. Unlike many states, however, in West Virginia public workers are often employed to assist energy production operations. This is largely driven by the fact that West Virginia is the second-largest coal producer after Wyoming, according to the EIA. In 2011, West Virginia had a higher concentration of workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industries than all but five other states. Also, government employment is affected by parts of West Virginia’s proximity to Washington D.C.