Special Report

States Where the Most (and Least) People Work for the Government

41. Connecticut

More than 14% of the nation’s workforce was employed in the public sector, not counting federal employment. In Connecticut, it was 13.5% of the workforce. The concentration of federal jobs in states is not necessarily tied to state and local government employment. While Connecticut’s state and local government employment was roughly in line with the national share, just 1.1% of workers were employed by the U.S. government, the second-lowest share in the country.

42. Indiana

At just $44,095, Indiana’s GDP per capita was one of the lower in the country. Areas with large rural populations often have low GDPs, and roughly 27% of Indiana’s households lived in rural areas, higher than the national share. Compared to cities, rural areas do not have the advantage of serving concentrated populations with relatively few state workers. Rural areas also tend to have higher transportation costs and less access to opportunities that help drive economic growth. The annual median household income in the state was $47,529, almost $5,000 below the national median income. While poor economic conditions can strain state and local budgets, residents may be better off than the data suggest. Indiana’s cost of living is roughly in line with that of the nation.

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43. Ohio

Less than 14% of Ohio’s labor force was employed by the state, or local governments, one of the smaller shares nationwide. The state’s relatively small public sector is partly related to the state’s relatively dense population. There were 282.3 people per square mile in Ohio, the 10th highest compared to other states, and far higher than than the 87.4 people per square mile across the nation. Concentrated urban areas need fewer municipal governments relative to the population. Unlike other states with a high degree of urbanization, however, Ohio’s GDP per capita was just $44,790, one of the smallest in the country.

44. New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, 13.3% of the workforce was employed in the public sector, excluding federal employment, lower than the 14.2% national share. The concentration of federal workers was even smaller, with 1.2% of the state’s workforce employed by the U.S. government, the fourth lowest share in the country. A more rural, spread-out population usually corresponds with a higher proportion of workers employed by the state, counties, and municipalities. It is therefore not surprising that more than 44% of the state’s households lived in rural areas, more than twice the national share.

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45. Illinois

In Illinois, 13% of the workforce was employed in the public sector, not counting federal employment, less than 14.2% of the national workforce. Higher proportions of state, county, and municipality workers are usually needed to serve more rural, spread-out populations. And the relatively dense 231.1 people per square mile in Illinois — several times the national 87.4 people per square mile nationwide — may have made administering public services more efficient.

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