Special Report

This is How Many People Work for the Government in Michigan

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 Michigan, 14.4% of the workforce are employed by the government — either at the state, local, or federal level — the 11th lowest share of all states. In keeping with the national trend, the number of government workers in Michigan has decreased in recent years. There are currently 581,500 public sector workers in the state, down 8.5% 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. Michigan is no exception. Per capita state and local government spending in the state totaled $9,343 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
1 Alaska 25.5 18,455 76,800
2 Wyoming 24.4 14,779 66,600
3 New Mexico 22.6 10,769 180,400
4 West Virginia 22.0 9,357 148,400
5 Hawaii 21.7 11,216 120,800
6 Oklahoma 21.3 7,886 345,600
7 Mississippi 21.3 9,034 236,100
8 Alabama 19.4 8,740 384,600
9 Maryland 19.3 10,820 498,400
10 North Dakota 19.3 12,016 79,300
11 Montana 19.0 9,201 89,100
12 Kansas 18.5 9,608 250,900
13 Virginia 18.5 9,357 712,100
14 Vermont 18.4 11,880 52,800
15 South Dakota 18.0 8,125 76,700
16 South Carolina 17.6 8,855 366,300
17 Louisiana 17.3 9,518 318,000
18 Washington 17.1 10,750 561,400
19 Nebraska 17.0 9,482 168,400
20 Arkansas 16.8 8,421 208,200
21 Iowa 16.7 10,157 252,100
22 Colorado 16.7 9,704 441,000
23 Idaho 16.5 7,436 124,300
24 New York 16.4 15,677 1,443,500
25 Maine 16.4 9,392 97,800
26 North Carolina 16.3 8,460 714,000
27 Kentucky 16.3 8,907 298,300
28 Texas 16.0 8,715 1,964,900
29 Utah 16.0 9,342 245,100
30 Oregon 15.6 12,075 284,700
31 Georgia 15.4 7,148 680,200
32 California 15.4 12,970 2,487,100
33 Missouri 15.3 8,198 424,700
34 New Jersey 15.0 10,675 578,600
35 Delaware 14.9 11,589 65,600
36 Minnesota 14.6 11,159 406,400
37 Arizona 14.5 7,149 412,500
38 Ohio 14.5 9,648 759,200
39 Tennessee 14.4 7,409 432,500
40 Michigan 14.4 9,343 581,500
41 Connecticut 14.3 9,927 223,800
42 Illinois 13.8 9,832 785,800
43 Indiana 13.8 8,959 412,400
44 Rhode Island 13.8 11,043 63,200
45 Wisconsin 13.7 9,545 386,200
46 New Hampshire 13.4 8,610 85,400
47 Florida 13.0 7,946 1,108,900
48 Massachusetts 13.0 11,976 437,800
49 Nevada 12.5 8,057 159,600
50 Pennsylvania 12.2 10,841 685,000