Special Report

States Where the Most People Work for the Government

35. New Jersey
> Pct. workers in government, 2015:
15.3%
> Pct. workers in government, 2005: 15.9% (17th lowest)
> Chg. government workers (2005-2015): -4.4% (7th largest decrease)
> People per square mile: 1,195.5 (the most)

Government jobs tend to make up a smaller share of total employment in more densely populated areas. In New Jersey, which has the 15th lowest share of government workers relative to its workforce, there are nearly 1,200 residents for every square mile. This is the largest population density of any state in the country. Nationwide, there are approximately 87.4 people per square mile.

34. California
> Pct. workers in government, 2015:
15.3%
> Pct. workers in government, 2005: 16.1% (19th lowest)
> Chg. government workers (2005-2015): 1.6% (20th largest increase)
> People per square mile: 239.1 (11th most)

California employs 2.5 million local, state, and federal workers — the largest government workforce of any state in the country. Even more Californians are employed in other industries, like trade, transportation and utilities, as well as the state’s professional and business services sector. For this reason, the share of jobs in government, at 15.3%, is just under the national share.

33. Arizona
> Pct. workers in government, 2015:
15.5%
> Pct. workers in government, 2005: 16.0% (18th lowest)
> Chg. government workers (2005-2015): 1.5% (18th largest increase)
> People per square mile: 56.3 (18th fewest)

The size of a state’s government often corresponds to the tax base and geographic composition of its residents. About nine in 10 Arizona residents live in an urban environment, slightly less than the eight in 10 Americans who do. Similarly, the typical Arizona household makes $49,928 a year, providing for a tax base slightly less than what the $53,482 national median household income does. Government employees account for 15.5% of the Arizona workforce, a share equivalent to the national proportion.

32. New York
> Pct. workers in government, 2015:
15.6%
> Pct. workers in government, 2005: 17.5% (20th highest)
> Chg. government workers (2005-2015): -3.4% (9th largest increase)
> People per square mile: 411.2 (7th most)

Between 2005 and 2015, the number of workers employed at the local, state, and federal level declined by about 50,000. It was one of just 14 states in which the number either decreased or remained unchanged. A disproportionately small segment of New York’s public employees are employed at the state or federal level. Nearly 75% of New York’s government employees are employed at the local level, compared to a national share of 63.8%.

31. Missouri
> Pct. workers in government, 2015:
15.6%
> Pct. workers in government, 2005: 15.7% (16th lowest)
> Chg. government workers (2005-2015): 1.1% (16th largest increase)
> People per square mile: 87.1 (23rd fewest)

The share of government workers in Missouri is roughly in line with the number of public employees nationwide. Although members of the armed services are not counted as government employees, the state is home to several military bases that support non-enlisted federal government jobs, including mechanics, research analysts, and nurses. Of the government employees in the state, 12.4% are federal workers.