The Biden administration has proposed a $6 trillion budget aimed at improving infrastructure, education, and health care. If passed, it would push federal spending to its highest level since World War II. It could also usher in the reversal of a long term-trend of declining government employment.
Over the last decade, the number of Americans employed by governments at the local, state, and federal levels has fallen from 22.5 million in 2010 to 21.9 million in 2020, a 2.6% drop. Nationwide, the public sector accounts for 15.4% of all employment. Government employment is not evenly distributed across the country, however. Depending on the state, the share of all jobs in the public sector ranges from less than 13% to over 25%.
In California, 15.4% of the workforce are employed by the government — either at the state, local, or federal level — the 19th lowest share of all states. Breaking with the national trend, the number of government workers in California has increased in recent years. There are currently 2,487,100 public sector workers in the state, up 1.6% from 2010.
States with a larger than typical share of public sector workers often have higher than average government spending on a per capita basis — and vise-versa. California is an exception, however. Per capita state and local government spending in the state totaled $12,970 in 2019, compared to the $10,131 national average.
Data on government employment and total employment are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 24/7 Wall St. calculated the share of government employment. Preliminary data on direct state and local government expenditure in 2019 came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances with figures was adjusted for population using data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. These are the states where the most people work for the government.
|Rank||State||Government as share of total employment (%)||State & local annual government spending per capita ($)||Total government employment|