According to conventional wisdom, there are many compelling reasons to work in the public sector. These can include job security, generous retirement and health care benefits, and work that is geared toward the public good rather than profit. One reason that does not typically make the list, however, is earning potential.
Still, while the wealthiest Americans have made their fortunes in private enterprise, there are dozens of people across the country with seven-figure salaries underwritten by taxpayers.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed state, local, and federal employee salary information to determine the three highest paid public employees in each state. Data for government and public university employees compiled by OpenTheBooks.com, an independent government watchdog organization, and Feds Data Center, a website that compiles data of federal employee salaries. Salaries for coaches came from USA Today. Employees were ranked on their salary from 2019, and may not necessarily still hold the job in which they are listed. In Hawaii, availability of 2019 data was limited, and as a result, only two public employees are listed.
About two-thirds of the people on this list work as coaches at public colleges and universities. College sports — particularly football — are major revenue engines at American schools, and coaches are often well compensated to maintain winning programs. Most coaches on this list have a salary in excess of $1 million per year. Dabo Swinney, head coach of 2018 NCAA champion Clemson Tiger football team, made a reported $9.3 million in 2019. Here is a look at the greatest coaches of all time.
Aside from public university employees, government officials comprise the remainder of this list. While they are well compensated, these individuals are not necessarily high-profile and often serve in state justice, public health, or finance departments. Ranging from about $175,000 a year to over $900,000, salaries for the government workers on this list are high — but they are still nowhere near the amount some other state residents earn. Here is a list of the richest person in every state.
Correction: In a previous version of this story, athletic coaches at private colleges and universities were included in error. Their names have been removed and replaced by the public sector employees.
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