States with the highest public employment

Written by:
July 9, 2019

States with the highest public employment

Since the United States began its slow climb out of the Great Recession of 2008, the public sector has remained sluggish while the private sector added more than 16 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those public jobs are sporadically distributed among states, where budgets vary wildly and different priorities are set for funding of schools, infrastructure, police departments, or public works. 

Local and state governments in 2016 spent $2.9 trillion on government expenditures, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. But where was this money most concentrated, and how did it affect job markets there? To find out, Stacker looked at U.S. Census Bureau data from March 2016, which took into account 10,577 state and local governments. Of the total, 13.6% were counties, 33.6% were cities and townships, 29.5% were special districts, and 23.3% were school districts. From there, we ranked the states in order of their offerings of public employment from those with the least public employment to the most.

There are several reasons why some states employ thousands of more workers than others. First, some states have more money allocated with which to hire employees. Second, demographics come into play: Some states have a higher senior population, for instance, which means a greater need for social services and health care facilities Third, some states have dozens of school districts that account for higher statewide employment numbers.

Public employment entails any and all public service jobs, including federal, state, and local government positions. Jobs in public employment vary greatly and include jobs in corrections, education, fire and police protection, hospitals, judicial and legal, and more. In most instances, a higher population means higher public employment, so this list is sorted by percentage employed in the public sector. Read on to find out where your home state ranks on public employment.

You might also like: Best place to find a job in every state

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BLM Nevada // Flickr

#51. Nevada

- Percent employed in public sector: 9.8%
- Total public employment: 132,148
--- Full-time employment: 97,750
--- Part-time employment: 34,398

Public employees in Nevada make less than their private-business counterparts and benefits don't make up for the disparity according to the Economic Policy Institute. The Sagebrush State has only seven state universities, which helps keep total public employment down. Nevada has the second-lowest rate of government employees in relation to population, trailing only Michigan.

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Bureau of Land Management // Flickr

#50. Florida

- Percent employed in public sector: 10.7%
- Total public employment: 996,955
--- Full-time employment: 811,966
--- Part-time employment: 184,989

Despite being the third-most populated state, the public employment percentage in the Sunshine State is low. With 40 state universities and colleges, Florida is near the bottom for teachers and professors per 10,000 people. The fourth-highest in total public employment, Forbes noted that high salaries are an ongoing problem.

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FirstEnergy Corp. // Flickr

#49. Pennsylvania

- Percent employed in public sector: 10.9%
- Total public employment: 665,886
--- Full-time employment: 493,320
--- Part-time employment: 172,566

The City of Philadelphia, the sixth-biggest city in the country, employs more than 25,000 people and is one of the top public employers in the state. Pennsylvania's high population density and concentrated urban areas detract from the number of government employees necessary. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the Clean Slate Law in 2019, which seals 30 million criminal records from employment background checks.

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U.S. Department of Agriculture // Flickr

#48. Arizona

- Percent employed in public sector: 10.9%
- Total public employment: 334,454
--- Full-time employment: 245,331
--- Part-time employment: 89,123

In June, the Arizona Republic reported the salaries of more than 150,000 state, county, and local employees. The compilation of wages, which are public record, showed the largest sector of state employees work for state government, while the three major universities provide thousands of other jobs. In addition, Maricopa County, the state's largest, has about 4.307 million residents that need more public sector employees, along with the highly populated areas of Phoenix, Mesa, Glendale, and Tucson.

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David Wilson // Flickr

#47. Rhode Island

- Percent employed in public sector: 11.0%
- Total public employment: 57,717
--- Full-time employment: 44,308
--- Part-time employment: 13,409

The smallest state in the country, Rhode Island is home to just three public colleges: University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and Community College of Rhode Island. The state's lone prison system is vastly understaffed with fewer than 1,000 full-time employees. The Lifespan System of Hospitals, the state's largest employer, is privatized, reducing public employment.

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Samantha Appleton // Official White House Photo

#46. Maryland

- Percent employed in public sector: 11.2%
- Total public employment: 339,359
--- Full-time employment: 267,563
--- Part-time employment: 71,796

Situated near the nation's capital, Maryland is host to the National Security Agency and the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as the Naval Academy at Annapolis. But in spite of so many government offices—and despite being one of the most densely populated states—Maryland has the fifth-lowest percentage of public employees in the country.

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FaceMePLS // Flickr

#45. Massachusetts

- Percent employed in public sector: 11.5%
- Total public employment: 398,620
--- Full-time employment: 303,114
--- Part-time employment: 95,506

The low percentage of public employment in the Bay State can be attributed to more than 80% of the state's population living in the greater Boston area. Despite 29 public universities within the Commonwealth, Massachusetts has the fourth-lowest rate of higher educators in relation to population. Massachusetts is also the nation's fourth-richest state, which decreases the need for certain public services such as Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

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Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton // U.S. Air National Guard photo

#44. Michigan

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.2%
- Total public employment: 558,963
--- Full-time employment: 360,855
--- Part-time employment: 198,108

The lowest per capita employer of local government workers, less than half of Michigan's public employees work in government. The state made an effort in the 2019 budget to improve shortfalls in state police and corrections staffing. Michigan University, one of 46 in the state, employs nearly 30,000 people.

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Airman 1st Class Ashlyn J. Correia // Air National Guard photo

#43. New Hampshire

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.2%
- Total public employment: 88,441
--- Full-time employment: 58,135
--- Part-time employment: 30,306

One of the smallest states by population, New Hampshire is mostly rural, requiring more public employees than more urban areas. U.S. News & World Report ranked New Hampshire's pre-k through grade 12 school system the third best in the nation. The Granite State employs the fourth-highest ratio of teachers, with 272 per 10,000 residents.

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Joe Bio // Wikicommons

#42. California

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.2%
- Total public employment: 2,210,005
--- Full-time employment: 1,523,255
--- Part-time employment: 686,750

The most populous state, California also employs more people in the public sector than any state, 500,000 more than second-place Texas. With a highly urban population, California boasts 75 cities with populations exceeding 100,000 people, three cities with more than 1 million people. With nearly 150 public universities, UCLA and UC Davis are two of the state's top employers, combining for nearly 50,000 public sector employees.

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ITB495 // Flickr

#41. Indiana

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.4%
- Total public employment: 393,322
--- Full-time employment: 277,662
--- Part-time employment: 115,660

Two out of three of Indiana's 6 million residents live in the Indianapolis metro area, with fewer public employees able to cover one-third of the population. A push to privatize schools has been met with resistance in a state that ranks in the bottom third for its ratio of teachers to population. The Hoosier State's top-paid employee was Indiana University men's basketball coach Archie Miller, at $3.2 million.

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Wonderlane // Flickr

#40. Washington

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.4%
- Total public employment: 428,593
--- Full-time employment: 287,703
--- Part-time employment: 140,890

The University of Washington is the state’s third-largest employer with nearly 25,000 employees and is only one of six public, four-year schools that employ thousands of more state workers. Along with higher education, the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island has almost 10,000 employees. However, the private-sector dominates public employment in the Evergreen State, with Microsoft calling Redmond home to more than 40,000 workers.

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Jason Minto // U.S. Air Force photo

#39. Delaware

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.4%
- Total public employment: 56,264
--- Full-time employment: 43,268
--- Part-time employment: 12,996

Two of the Mid-Atlantic region's biggest public employers are the State of Delaware and Dover Air Force Base. The state's government offices, located in the capital city of Dover, employs up to 16,000 workers. Also in Dover, the U.S. 436 Military Airlift Wing has thousands of public and private-sector employees working together. Additionally, there are nearly 40 school districts throughout the Diamond State that employ thousands of teachers and administrators.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District // Flickr

#38. Tennessee

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.5%
- Total public employment: 371,508
--- Full-time employment: 300,560
--- Part-time employment: 70,948

Almost 140 school districts and 10 state prisons help raise Tennessee's public employment figures to more than 350,000. But the largest employer is the State of Tennessee, with almost 25,000 public workers. Along with the judicial and legislative branches of government, the total number of state employees adds up to more than 40,000.

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Savannah River Site // Flickr

#37. Georgia

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.5%
- Total public employment: 584,252
--- Full-time employment: 471,539
--- Part-time employment: 112,713

The Peach State is plump with public-sector employees and top state officials making more than $1 million annually. Ricardo Azziz, former president of Augusta University—Georgia's public medical college with thousands of state employees—and a few other top officials brought in million-dollar salaries, all paid by taxpayers. Meanwhile, the combined salaries of 32,000 Fort Benning employees and 19,000 at Robins Air Force Base, are included in the state's $27.5 billion budget.

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Senator Claire McCaskill // Flickr

#36. Missouri

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.6%
- Total public employment: 375,429
--- Full-time employment: 284,463
--- Part-time employment: 90,966

A 2017 News Tribune report detailed that among 10 Midwestern states, Missouri has more public hospitals and correctional facilities than the rest of them, which is not necessarily to the employees' benefit. Gov. Eric Greitens has conceded to the fact state employees in Missouri come in dead last for overall average pay in the U.S. and said higher wages might be possible if there were fewer employees.

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COD Newsroom // Flickr

#35. Illinois

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.6%
- Total public employment: 778,145
--- Full-time employment: 544,925
--- Part-time employment: 233,220

Illinois state workers are the highest-paid in the nation, according to the Illinois Policy Organization. They also enjoy such perks as free retirement insurance and, on average, around $1.6 million in pension benefits. Forbes noted in 2017 that more than 63,000 state workers make more than $100,000, which costs Illinois citizens more than $10 billion to fund annually.

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Airman 1st Class William Tracy // U.S. Air Force photo

#34. Colorado

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.7%
- Total public employment: 354,433
--- Full-time employment: 238,187
--- Part-time employment: 116,246

Thousands of state jobs in all three branches of government, 12 four-year public universities, 20 state-run correctional institutions, and numerous hospitals keep more than 350,000 Coloradans employed. The Denver Post reported Colorado's hospital industry expenditures were second only to Alaska. While the health care system has spurred a hospital transparency bill, the public school system keeps thousands of teachers employed in more than 180 school districts.

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Wisconsin department of Military Affairs

#33. Wisconsin

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.7%
- Total public employment: 379,405
--- Full-time employment: 236,729
--- Part-time employment: 142,676

The Wisconsin education system, which includes 421 public school districts and 31 public universities, ranks 34th in the number of teachers in relation to population. Fort McCoy in Monroe County is the state's only major military installation, and is one of the Army's primary training facilities, moving nearly 100,000 soldiers through per year. The Badger State does not use private prisons; 37 facilities overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

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1st Lt. Jen Pierce // U.S. Air National Guard photo

#32. Connecticut

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.7%
- Total public employment: 228,468
--- Full-time employment: 167,105
--- Part-time employment: 61,363

One of the richest states per capita, Connecticut's Stamford area has more millionaires per capita than anywhere in the country. Consequently, the Constitution State ranks near the top in teachers per capita and payroll expenditures. The U.S. Coast Guard Academy is headquartered in New London, one of two military bases in the state.

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Sonya Hebert // U.S. National Archives

#31. New Jersey

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.8%
- Total public employment: 551,645
--- Full-time employment: 430,129
--- Part-time employment: 121,516

The most densely populated state in the union, the Garden State is one of the most taxed, as well. The population concentration allows for fewer employees to fulfill public services, but New Jersey has the 10th-most local/state government employees and is sixth in salary expenditures. The New Jersey Department of Corrections employs 24,000 people and oversees 13 main institutions.

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Andrea Booher // Wikicommons

#30. Minnesota

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.9%
- Total public employment: 370,612
--- Full-time employment: 241,122
--- Part-time employment: 129,490

The Department of Human Services represents 18% of all state employees while transportation and corrections account for 14% and 13%, respectively. Sixty-one percent of all state employees work within the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has 67 state parks, 42 public universities, and 13 prison facilities.

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U.S. Forest Service- Pacific Northwest Region // Flickr

#29. Oregon

- Percent employed in public sector: 12.9%
- Total public employment: 252,545
--- Full-time employment: 169,137
--- Part-time employment: 83,408

Oregon's school system employs roughly 26,000 teachers across 1,200 schools and the University of Oregon, one of the 24 state universities in the state, employs another 8,000. Four thousand corrections officers oversee the state's 14 prisons.

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Mark // Flickr

#28. Texas

- Percent employed in public sector: 13.0%
- Total public employment: 1,651,903
--- Full-time employment: 1,380,038
--- Part-time employment: 271,865

They say that everything's bigger in Texas, including public sector employment, as the Lone Star State ranks behind only California in total employees. With one of the highest prisoner rates, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice employs more than 40,000 correction officers, although turnover and shortages are an ongoing problem. Texas has four cities with a population exceeding 1 million: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin.

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U.S. Air Force photo

#27. Ohio

- Percent employed in public sector: 13.1%
- Total public employment: 712,493
--- Full-time employment: 507,561
--- Part-time employment: 204,932

Ohio state government had almost 52,000 full- and part-time employees in June 2019. Columbus is the state's largest city with a population of 850,000, and while the population density is ranked in the top 10 in the nation, much of the state is rural, requiring more employees. Ohio State University employs nearly 34,000 non-student workers, making it one of the top employers in the state.

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#26. District of Columbia

- Percent employed in public sector: 13.1%
- Total public employment: 48,458
--- Full-time employment: 44,582
--- Part-time employment: 3,876

Not surprisingly, the federal government is the largest employer in the nation's capital. The Washington D.C. Department of Corrections, which sent its prisoners to Virginia until 2001, employs 1,000 people full time. The public school system in D.C. has more than 7,500 teachers and classroom staff.

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#25. Maine

- Percent employed in public sector: 13.2%
- Total public employment: 87,425
--- Full-time employment: 60,518
--- Part-time employment: 26,907

Maine's school systems and 15 public universities employ nearly half of the workers in the public sector. A majority of the remainder of public employees in the state work in local and state government. The Maine State Employees Association reached an agreement with Gov. Janet Mills in 2019 to increase wages and reduce staffing shortages.

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U.S. Department of Agriculture // Flickr

#24. Virginia

- Percent employed in public sector: 13.2%
- Total public employment: 536,023
--- Full-time employment: 399,370
--- Part-time employment: 136,653

There are 39 public colleges and universities in Virginia, and the top-five employee salaries in the state are all administrators at those schools. The state pension system, which serves more than 705,000 current and former state employees, is one of the largest in the country and the most vulnerable to market fluctuations.

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The National Guard // Flickr

#23. South Carolina

- Percent employed in public sector: 13.4%
- Total public employment: 292,025
--- Full-time employment: 241,945
--- Part-time employment: 50,080

Local and state government jobs account for well over half of the 290,000 people employed in South Carolina's public sector. Bills to improve working conditions and salaries for teachers in South Carolina's education system are in the state Senate. 

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Sam Beebe // Wikicommons

#22. Idaho

- Percent employed in public sector: 13.4%
- Total public employment: 105,192
--- Full-time employment: 72,009
--- Part-time employment: 33,183

The Idaho Department of Corrections oversees nine prisons employing more than 2,000 people. The state is one of the largest in area, and one of the least densely populated. Idaho ranks 14th in number the of school employees in relation to population, and its unemployment rate of 2.8% is the fifth-lowest in the nation.

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University of Utah Health Care // Wikicommons

#21. Utah

- Percent employed in public sector: 13.6%
- Total public employment: 197,836
--- Full-time employment: 119,811
--- Part-time employment: 78,025

Utah ranks 30th in terms of the total population and employs fewer people in government than many states of comparable size. The University of Utah Hospital system is ranked among the best in the country and accounts for a number of public employees. Utah, which banned private prisons in 2010, has two public state facilities.

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Spc. Erin Sherwood // Wikicommons

#20. Hawaii

- Percent employed in public sector: 13.7%
- Total public employment: 90,812
--- Full-time employment: 68,773
--- Part-time employment: 22,039

Hawaii is one of just six states to operate its jails at the state level, with the Department of Public Safety overseeing four prisons and four jails. The tropical paradise ranks near the top in terms of government employees in relation to population. Privatized hospitals, among the best in the nation, have reduced the number of public employees.

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Jonas N. Jordan // Wikicommons

#19. North Carolina

- Percent employed in public sector: 13.9%
- Total public employment: 644,680
--- Full-time employment: 497,103
--- Part-time employment: 147,577

Fort Bragg is the largest military base in the country by population, employs more than 10,000 civilians, and is home to more than 50,000 soldiers. Other military installations in North Carolina, including Camp Lejeune and multiple Air Force bases, drive total public employment north. The University of North Carolina is one of 74 public universities in the state.

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Public Domain // Wikicommons

#18. South Dakota

- Percent employed in public sector: 14.2%
- Total public employment: 62,565
--- Full-time employment: 40,880
--- Part-time employment: 21,685

South Dakota employs fewer people in state and local government than any state but Vermont. South Dakota's 12 public universities rank 10th in the nation for higher learning, and the state's highest-paid public employee is the dean of the University of South Dakota's Sanford School of Medicine.

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NPS Photo

#17. Montana

- Percent employed in public sector: 14.4%
- Total public employment: 72,573
--- Full-time employment: 49,042
--- Part-time employment: 23,531

The high ratio of employees in the public sector can be attributed partially to the rural nature of Montana. The third-least densely populated state with seven people per square mile, Big Sky Country requires more employees to serve such a spread out population. Though it has among the fewest total employees in state and local government, Montana has one of the highest ratios in relation to population.

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Patsy Lynch // Wikicommons

#16. Oklahoma

- Percent employed in public sector: 14.4%
- Total public employment: 250,362
--- Full-time employment: 199,269
--- Part-time employment: 51,093

In 2018, exactly 45,005 state employees worked in 118 agencies, according to the journalism organization Oklahoma Watch. That same report found that the state's top earner worked in the state Mental Health and Abuse Services department for $284,469 a year. The top three public employers in Oklahoma City include state government, Tinker Air Force Base, and the University of Oklahoma.

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Wagner T. Cassimiro "Aranha" // Flickr

#15. New York

- Percent employed in public sector: 14.5%
- Total public employment: 1,323,087
--- Full-time employment: 1,085,143
--- Part-time employment: 237,944

The New York Times reports the Big Apple had the highest public employment ever in 2017, at 294,000 full-time workers under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration. In addition, the state's move to abandon private prisons would add more public workers to the state's existing more than 1.3 million public employees.

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Louisiana Sea Grant College Program Louisiana State University // Flickr

#14. Louisiana

- Percent employed in public sector: 14.6%
- Total public employment: 289,922
--- Full-time employment: 237,428
--- Part-time employment: 52,494

While state government employment figures were down 30,000 five years ago in Louisiana at 62,000, they still make up a large percentage. Seventy school districts, with 1,303 schools, and thousands of teachers and administrators, also add to the total public employment of the nearly 290,000.

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U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) // Flickr

#13. Nebraska

- Percent employed in public sector: 14.7%
- Total public employment: 143,638
--- Full-time employment: 103,735
--- Part-time employment: 39,903

Offutt Air Force Base with 9,584 employees, Nebraska Medicine with 9,000 workers, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Department with 5,800 employees, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center with 5,600 make up a large percentage of the state's full-time public workers. In addition, more than 90 counties in the Midwestern state employ thousands of public-sector workers.

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NPS Photo

#12. Iowa

- Percent employed in public sector: 14.7%
- Total public employment: 241,077
--- Full-time employment: 153,337
--- Part-time employment: 87,740

Salaries for Iowa state employees range from advanced clerk positions at nearly $40,000 annually to executive officers who can make more than $100,000, according to the Des Moines Register. Iowa City, the second-largest employer in the Hawkeye State with 10,000 workers, while the University of Iowa Hospital and Pediatrics has up to 11,000 employees.

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Nyttend // WIkicommons

#11. Kentucky

- Percent employed in public sector: 14.8%
- Total public employment: 279,241
--- Full-time employment: 221,341
--- Part-time employment: 57,900

The expanding size of the Kentucky State prison system continues to propel public employment figures up. The school system, with 129 districts, also accounts for thousands of employees, including instructors and administrators. Tens of thousands of other public employees work in Jefferson County Public Schools, the University of Louisville, and the Frankfort Corrections Department.

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Brandonrush // Wikicommons

#10. Arkansas

- Percent employed in public sector: 15.0%
- Total public employment: 193,684
--- Full-time employment: 157,908
--- Part-time employment: 35,776

The growing senior population, which calls for increased social services that require more state workers, adds to the high public employment figures in Arkansas. Since 2013, when public employment figures in state government totaled more than $57,000, the Natural State has cut more than a dozen government departments.

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Ted Eytan // Flickr

#9. Vermont

- Percent employed in public sector: 15.2%
- Total public employment: 50,720
--- Full-time employment: 35,034
--- Part-time employment: 15,686

More than 260 school districts in Vermont contribute to thousands of full-time state workers, including teachers. Of the 10,380 listed state employee salaries last updated in June, the highest-paid public employee in the Green Mountain State is Frederick Moran, dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, who has maintained the top spot for a few years at around $559,000 annually.

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Carol M. Highsmith // Wikicommons

#8. Alabama

- Percent employed in public sector: 15.6%
- Total public employment: 317,324
--- Full-time employment: 255,898
--- Part-time employment: 61,426

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has about 30,000 employees, making up a large portion of the total number of public employees in the Heart of Dixie. With one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation, Alabama's prison system, with 13 facilities, employs thousands of law enforcement officials and corrections officers who are public employees.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers // Flickr

#7. North Dakota

- Percent employed in public sector: 16.5%
- Total public employment: 66,467
--- Full-time employment: 40,615
--- Part-time employment: 25,852

Reorganizing 19 multi-county zones into “human service zones” will transfer county social service workers into state employees to provide more state services in North Dakota. And, a growing female prison population will require more state workers, along with public employees who work in more than 240 school districts throughout the state. The highest-paid state employee in the North Dakota is Joshua Wynne, dean of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, who makes $674,600.

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Nyttend // Wikicommons

#6. West Virginia

- Percent employed in public sector: 16.5%
- Total public employment: 121,427
--- Full-time employment: 95,401
--- Part-time employment: 26,026

In 2016, the West Virginia University Medical Center beat out Wal-Mart as the largest state employer, pushing the big-box business back to second after more than a decade at the top. Additionally, the aging population is calling for more state workers with less social service funds, which poses a problem both socially and fiscally.

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Public Domain // Wikicommons

#5. New Mexico

- Percent employed in public sector: 16.7%
- Total public employment: 144,342
--- Full-time employment: 115,386
--- Part-time employment: 28,956

As with many states, higher education makes up much of New Mexico's public employment figures, with the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University providing thousands of full-time positions. Meanwhile, state government employs at least 2,000. High public employment in the Land of Enchantment State is par for the course, with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions reporting public-sector jobs in 2012 made up nearly 23% of all state labor.

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Tim Samoff // Flickr

#4. Kansas

- Percent employed in public sector: 17.1%
- Total public employment: 243,170
--- Full-time employment: 177,606
--- Part-time employment: 65,564

There are at least five public-sector employers in the Sunflower State: the federal government, University of Kansas Health System, Olathe Public Schools, the City of Kansas City, and Johnson County Government, that total more than 41,000 employees. The Kansas City Economic Development Corporation reports dozens of major public employers, including the Internal Revenue System, with more than 4,500, and the Kansas City School District with another 2,500. The thousands of other jobs that make up almost 250,000 public employees in the state are also in higher education, health services, and government.

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Carol M. Highsmith // Wikicommons

#3. Mississippi

- Percent employed in public sector: 17.4%
- Total public employment: 210,079
--- Full-time employment: 178,181
--- Part-time employment: 31,898

There are so many state workers in Mississippi that there isn't enough money to give raises, according to the Clarion-Ledger, which reported that constant employee turnover in state government is a “crisis,” costing almost $200 million a year. The Mississippi Public School System has more than 32,000 teachers, and the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the Mississippi Department of Health employ thousands more in the Magnolia State.

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Lt. James “Bobby” Miller. // U.S Coast Guard photo

#2. Alaska

- Percent employed in public sector: 18.1%
- Total public employment: 61,135
--- Full-time employment: 48,265
--- Part-time employment: 12,870

According to the Alaska Department of Administration, there are up to 15,000 public employees throughout the Last Frontier State, with most working under the government's executive branch in up to 14 departments. More than 50 school districts and almost 30 hospitals statewide account for thousands of federal, county, and local employees. U.S. News & World Report noted that Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed $444 million in state spending, slashing $140 million from the University of Alaska, which employs about 7,000 people.

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Army Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen // DoD photo

#1. Wyoming

- Percent employed in public sector: 21.5%
- Total public employment: 61,525
--- Full-time employment: 43,889
--- Part-time employment: 17,636

Three federal agencies in Wyoming, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, account for almost 10% of state employees. The BLM reported in 2017 it supported 76,400 jobs, resulting in an excess of $5 billion in labor and wages. In addition, the sparsely populated state has a local government in the smallest of towns, according to USA Today, which means more public employment in areas where private-sector work is minimal.

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