Special Report

States Where the Most People Work for the Government

50. Pennsylvania
> Pct. workers in government, 2015:
12.1%
> Pct. workers in government, 2005: 13.2% (3rd lowest)
> Chg. government workers (2005-2015): -6.4% (4th largest decline)
> People per square mile: 283.9 (9th most)

Only 12.1% of workers in Pennsylvania are employed in the public sector, the smallest such percentage in the country. Government employment in Pennsylvania has also declined over the last decade. While public sector employment grew by 0.9% nationwide between 2005 and 2015, it decreased by 6.4% in the Keystone State over the same period.

49. Nevada
> Pct. workers in government, 2015:
12.3%
> Pct. workers in government, 2005: 11.7% (the lowest)
> Chg. government workers (2005-2015): 8.2% (8th largest increase)
> People per square mile: 24.6 (9th fewest)

Only one other state — Pennsylvania — has a smaller percentage of government workers than Nevada. While, on average, 15.5% of workers nationwide are public employees, in Nevada the percentage is just 12.3%. In 2005, prior to the recession, this share was even lower, at 11.7%. However, as Nevada has shed jobs in other sectors, including a close to 50% drop in construction jobs over the last decade, the share of government workers has increased.

48. Rhode Island
> Pct. workers in government, 2015:
12.4%
> Pct. workers in government, 2005: 13.2% (4th lowest)
> Chg. government workers (2005-2015): -7.1% (3rd largest decline)
> People per square mile: 1018.1 (2nd most)

Government workers tend to make up a smaller share of the workforce in densely populated urban areas, where private enterprises are more likely to thrive. In Rhode Island, the second most densely populated state in the country, only 12.4% of workers are employed in the public sector, the third smallest percentage in the country. The total number of government employees in the Ocean State dropped from 64,900 in 2005 to 60,300 in 2015.

47. Massachusetts
> Pct. workers in government, 2015:
12.9%
> Pct. workers in government, 2005: 13.2% (2nd lowest)
> Chg. government workers (2005-2015): 6.1% (15th largest increase)
> People per square mile: 839.4 (3rd most)

Urban areas are often more economically vibrant and tend to support larger numbers of private sector jobs. As a result, relatively small shares of urban area jobs tend to be in the public sector. In Massachusetts, a state where 92% of the population lives in urban locations, a relatively small percentage of the population is employed in the public sector. Only 451,000 workers — or 12.9% of the state’s total workforce — are government employees.

46. Florida
> Pct. workers in government, 2015:
13.4%
> Pct. workers in government, 2005: 13.9% (6th lowest)
> Chg. government workers (2005-2015): 0.0%
> People per square mile: 350.6 (8th most)

The roughly 1.1 million people in Florida who work for the government make up only 13.4% of the state’s workforce, one of the smallest such percentages in the country. As is the case nationwide, the vast majority of those in the public sector in the Sunshine State work for the local government. Fewer than one in five public sector workers in Florida is employed by the state, the third smallest proportion in the country.