Stateline Story

Government Employment Grew in 22 States, Analysis Finds

Nearly half the states added government jobs in the past four years, a period that included the Great Recession and usually is associated with layoffs in the public sector. 

A new analysis of federal data by the Business Journals, a national network of business news sites, examines local, state and federal employment numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and concludes that some states have been aggressively adding government jobs even as others have been forced to cut back considerably.

On a percentage basis, Wyoming added by far the most government jobs over the last four years, increasing its overall government workforce by 14.75 percent, according to the analysis. The District of Columbia ( 6.66 percent), Montana ( 5.93 percent), South Dakota ( 5.56 percent) and North Dakota ( 4.62 percent) round out the top five. These states were not hit nearly as hard by the recession as others, largely because of their small populations and lucrative natural resources.

By contrast, Rhode Island saw its government workforce decline by the greatest percentage in the nation at 6.84 percent, according to the study. Nevada (-6.09 percent), Michigan (-5.42 percent), Maine (-4.76 percent) and California (-4.65 percent) saw the next-biggest declines, with California also seeing the largest drop in absolute numbers, with 116,600 fewer government workers in September 2011 than four years earlier.