Wisconsin Budget

State Has Fewer Public Employees

Number per capita below national average and declined under Gov. Doyle.

By , Wisconsin Budget Project - Jan 27th, 2017 11:34 am
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Jim Doyle

Jim Doyle

Here are four charts about Wisconsin’s public employees. Among other things, they show the state has fewer public employees than most states, and that the number per capita has declined since 2000, largely during the years Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle served.

1. Compared to other states, Wisconsin has a lean public sector

Wisconsin had 2.1% fewer state and local government employees than the national average in 2015 given our population size, according to a new analysis from the Wisconsin Budget Project. Wisconsin had a leaner public sector than all but 15 states.

Wisconsin has fewer public employees than most other states.

Wisconsin has fewer public employees than most other states.

2. The number of public employees in Wisconsin has declined over the last decade

The number of public employees in Wisconsin fluctuates from year to year, but the general trend shows a decline over time. Levels of public employment in Wisconsin are significantly lower than they were 15 years ago, when they hit a peak. The number of public employees per 1,000 Wisconsin residents has fallen about seven percent since 2001, from 53.3 to 49.6 employees.

Number of public employees in Wisconsin is lower than historical levels.

Number of public employees in Wisconsin is lower than historical levels.

3. There are nearly three times as many local government employees in Wisconsin than there are state employees

There were 212,000 full-time equivalent employees working in local government in Wisconsin in 2015, compared to 74,000 in state government. That means three-quarters of public employees worked at the local level.

Most public employees are at the local level.

Most public employees are at the local level.

4. Most public employees in Wisconsin work in education

Six out of ten government employees work in education, mostly in K-12 schools. A smaller number of employees work in higher education.

Most public employees in Wisconsin work in education.

Most public employees in Wisconsin work in education.

There are also significant concentrations of state and local government employees working in health and human services, police and fire, corrections, and transportation.

For more about public employees in Wisconsin, read our analysis: Wisconsin’s Public Sector is Leaner than Most States’.

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