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The best and worst paying states for public employees

Stacker Logo By Lillian Podlog of Stacker | Slide 1 of 52: Love it or hate it, the United States government is a major player in our economy. With 2.7 million employees on its payroll, the U.S. federal government is the single largest employer in the world while over 20 million people, or about 11 percent of the total labor force, are employed by the public sector at the local, state, or federal levels.Using the 2016 Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll, we discovered which states had the best- and worst-heeled state and local government employees (federal employees were not surveyed). The survey provides the total amount of money paid out to public employees in March 2016. Dividing the total March Payroll by the number of full-time public employees yields the average monthly salary.Assuming 23 work days and 8 hours of work in a day, we then used the average monthly salary to estimate hourly wage. It is important to note that because different states and different industries may have a different qualifying standards for “full-time” employees (i.e. 35 hours a week versus 45 hours), the hourly wage is merely an estimate.Not surprisingly, given the almost mythical salaries of top sports coaches, employees in higher education were the best paid in 36 states. On the other hand, elementary and secondary school employees were the worst paid in forty-one states.We begin our list with the states with the highest average monthly salary for public employees and work our way to bottom. Where does your state show up on the list?

The best and worst paying states for public employees

Love it or hate it, the United States government is a major player in our economy. With 2.7 million employees on its payroll, the U.S. federal government is the single largest employer in the world while over 20 million people, or about 11 percent of the total labor force, are employed by the public sector at the local, state, or federal levels.

Using the 2016 Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll, we discovered which states had the best- and worst-paid state and local government employees (federal employees were not surveyed). The survey provides the total amount of money paid out to public employees in March 2016. Dividing the total March Payroll by the number of full-time public employees yields the average monthly salary.

For each state, we've included the industries within state and local employment that rank best and worst for monthly pay. The education sector revealed a disparity: higher education came in highest across 36 states while elementary and secondary school employees were the worst paid in forty-one states.

We begin our list with the states with the lowest average monthly salary for public employees and work our way to the state where state and local employees receive the highest pay. Click through to see the whole thing.

© Matt Wade Photography // Wikicommons

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