Tamarine Cornelius

Wisconsin Ranks 39th in Public Employees

Number has been dropping since 2001. Only 11 states have fewer public workers per capita.

By , Wisconsin Budget Project - Feb 3rd, 2016 03:52 pm
Number of Public Employess in Wisconsin has Fallen over Time

Number of Public Employess in Wisconsin has Fallen over Time

Wisconsin ranks 39th in the number of government workers per population, meaning Wisconsin’s state and local governments are leaner than all but 11 other states. The number of public employees in Wisconsin has fallen over time, and current levels of public employment are significantly lower than they were a decade ago.

The number of government employees in Wisconsin compared to population has fallen over time and is now at among its lowest levels since at least 1993, the earliest point for which U.S. Census Bureau makes figures available.

Wisconsin had 48.5 state and local government full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) per 1,000 state residents in 2014. That’s down 9% from a high of 53.3 employees in 2001. If Wisconsin government employment levels had stayed at the 2001 peak levels, Wisconsin would have nearly 27,000 additional government employees over the current levels.

This analysis is based on recently-released state and local government employment figures collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, which publishes public employment levels for March of each year. Because different states delegate responsibilities to different levels of government, combining state and local government employees gives a better picture of the size of a state’s public sector than does looking at each level of government independent of the other.

In Wisconsin, about 1 out of every 7 jobs are in state or local government.

Compared to other states, Wisconsin has relatively few state and local government employees for the size of our population. Wisconsin had 48.5 government employees per 1,000 residents in 2014, 4.4% less than the national average. Put another way, for every 100 public employees in other states, Wisconsin has only 96.

Fewer government employees means that Wisconsin governments spend less on public payrolls. For each person that lived in the state, Wisconsin spent 7.1% less than the national average on public payrolls, ranking 26th among the states.

Another reason that public payroll costs in Wisconsin are low is that public employees in Wisconsin earn less than the national average. The payroll per employee was 2.9% below the national average.

Wisconsin Has Fewer Public Workers, Smaller Payrolls than the National Average

Wisconsin Has Fewer Public Workers, Smaller Payrolls than the National Average

State and local government workers in Wisconsin are concentrated in the field of 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.

Most government employees in Wisconsin work in local government. Wisconsin’s public sector employed 278,600 FTEs in 2014, 74% of whom worked at the local level.

Wisconsin has long had a lean public sector compared to other states, and in 2014 the number of state and local government workers per Wisconsin resident stayed considerably below national levels. State-imposed constraints on property taxes and reductions in state support for local governments have likely contributed to the decline.

An efficient, effective public sector helps Wisconsin families and businesses thrive. Government employees teach Wisconsin’s children, repair our transportation network, and keep our communities safe — all activities that help make Wisconsin a good place to do business and raise families. If the number of workers doing these jobs dips too low, the quality of life of Wisconsin residents and the state’s economic competitiveness will be harmed.

24 thoughts on “Wisconsin Ranks 39th in Public Employees”

  1. mbradleyc says:

    This is a good thing.

  2. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    this is good, but the numbers of admin and ancillary staffs in UW system and K12 is way too high. More now than when we had twice as many kids.

    And why should public employees get better pay, vacations, pensions, days off, holidays, sick days, health, dental, early retirement and cannot get fired?

  3. Dave says:

    “And why should public employees get better pay, vacations, pensions, days off, holidays, sick days, health, dental, early retirement and cannot get fired?”

    Actually, old man, most generally get lower pay than their private sector colleagues and in return for that and suffering constant harassment and deranged disparagement from assholes like you and those you vote for, they get pretty nice benefits.

  4. daniel golden says:

    Why is it an article of faith for right wing conservatives that we have to pay business executives and upper level bankers millions because “you have to pay to get good people”, but when it comes to teachers and public employees, not so much. Paying public employees less than the national average and then attacking them is not the formula for attracting loyal, qualified employees. Since the Wisconsin Republicans have now killed the merit based civil service system for hiring state employees, gird your loins . Bad occurrences and events will be commonplace under the Republicans’s “spoils system” of government.

  5. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Who wants to pay officers millions, not me. i believe in Sam Walton. Regular salary and then options where you have to earn the money.
    Most of these guys that you talk about are donors to the Clintons and the left. Our guys are the people with 50 or less employees and subchapter S.
    That is one reason that I do not buy sticks, do not like the Wall Street Culture, agree with bernie.
    See movie: “Big Short”.

  6. Vincent Hanna says:

    Yes the Republican party is known for being on the side of the little guy and not their close ties to corporations or the wealthy.

    From Politifact: “Republicans have led in money from Wall Street and business.”

    So there’s some cold hard truth for you WCD.

  7. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Take a look at the donors to the Clintons, Obama. McCain spent 200 million and Obama spent 1 billion. Bernie has the right to claim that, not the Left. Look who voted for the billionaires and led the fight for the Bucks??? Barrett and the left. Look who fought for that damned trolley not the little guys.

  8. Vincent Hanna says:

    You are moving the goalposts WCD. Who donated to the Clinton’s and who voted for the Bucks does not change the fact that Republicans far more than Democrats are the party of Wall Street and business. But hey I understand that facts are not your thing. When presented with them, you change the subject and talk about something else.

  9. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Sorry you are either stupid or lying but if you look at the top 50 big players the top ten are all dems with Soros, Gates, Buffett etc. Koch 39th
    Check it out everyone the Left lies all day long, learned it from the Clintons.

  10. Casey says:

    I really hate graphs that show only the top few percent markers just to make it seem more radical then it would if the graph would should 0-peak.

  11. Dave says:

    Why do you folks argue with Bob Dohnal, aka WCD? Just point out what a stupid pathetic old man he is and move on. He’s not worth more than a minute of anyone’s time.

  12. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Confucius was old. Some people get old and have never accomplished anything. My love is coming to this site and listen to the losers whine.
    Lots of opinions, no facts here. Right Bruce. Check on that reapportionment yet by Earl?

  13. daniel golden says:

    If Bob Dohnal is not a paid troll, he is making a fool of himself on a regular basis for very little consideration. What would Dohnal, err, excuse me , WCD do with the Koch brothers 400 million spent in 2012, all on Republican candidates, or the Kochs promise to spent over 900 million on conservative candidates in 2016?, What about all the corporate Republican dark money which is not disclosed, which has and will continue to dwarf disclosed donations?. Finally, if Dohnal really is against Wall Street, why is he not ever critical of the party that has consistently opposed Wall Street reform, and which party has fought Elizabeth Warren every inch of the way?

  14. AnnPC says:

    I have worked for both the private and public sector. (Now retired). Many forget, or refuse to acknowledge, that Total Compensation = Wage + Benefits. The fact that public sector workers’ wages are lower than the private sector is just that – a fact. Another fact is that public sector workers’ benefits were higher than the private sector workers’ benefits, but the Total Compensation was essentially equal. Unfortunately, pro-Act 10 folks emphasized the benefits packages – “Why should public sector workers have better benefits than you do” – without revealing the lower wages. Now public sector workers’ Total Compensation is significantly less than private sector.

    What you get as a result is less skilled workers and more work being performed by fewer workers. Think more mistakes, longer lines and longer turn-around times. Remember that the next time you say: “Government workers are idiots.” “Everything takes so long.” “The lines are ridiculous.”

    If you purchase a service from private sector, and you’re not happy, you can go elsewhere. If it’s the government that provides the service, you get what you pay for. Want to privatize? Be prepared to build into every service a “profit tax.” You’re making someone a profit and it will cost you.

    The real secret is that state and local governments have “downsized” staff in order to brag “We now have fewer government workers on the payroll.” but behind the scenes they are outsourcing the work to highly paid consultants, in effect, costing the taxpayer more money than if they had kept the staff in-house.

    If you want to get angry about paying too much in taxes for government employees, research the number of government jobs eliminated but replaced with higher cost private sector consultants. Compare the costs.

  15. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Baloney there have been numerous studies in Wisconsin showing that public salaries are higher, you cannot fire one. In education, they only work 170 days, yet get better salaries than nurses with about the same education plus bennies much better. You practically have to assasinate somemone to get fired.
    I do not think a teacher or other educrats have been fired in Tosa or WA in decades.

  16. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Love to hear Lefties whine. Kochs are buried by the Lefts’ donors: Buffett, Soros, Gates and so many more. He obviously never looks at facts, just has silly opinions. I love to come here to hear the whines.
    The white, liberal, male, racists that ran the state into the ground, Walker saved, cannot run MPS: “national disgrace” or Milwaukee with crime wave, heroin wave, human trafficking, worst mgt., worst poverty, 57% youth unemployment, lousy roads, abandoned houses. But they do have some accomplishments: trolley and a playpen for billionaires.

    Rave on kiddies. love to hear it.

  17. AnniePC says:

    Dear “wisconsin conservative digest”

    While working in the public sector I fired several staff and demoted others whose skills did not rise to the position they were in. I did not tolerate incompetence, and I wasn’t the only one firing staff. Rarely was a firing made a public issue as we allowed the staff to leave with at least a shred of dignity, so the public (yourself included) have no idea of the number fired. Same holds true for the private sector. I’ve worked in both.

    Say what you will. I’ve been there.

    And please post what valid studies by non-partisan entities have shown that public employees salaries are universally higher. I will read them.

  18. Vincent Hanna says:

    During the three years I spent teaching in MPS, a whole bunch of teachers were fired, both during and after the school year. Also, I wish I only worked 170 days. Only someone who has never actually taught would believe teachers only work 170 days a year. I worked every weekend and all summer long. Not looking for sympathy because I signed up for it. Just the way it was. The grading and planning never stop for a teacher.

  19. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    My wife is teacher.

  20. Vincent Hanna says:

    Good for her (though I am not sure why she’d want to be married to someone so anti-teacher). But you are not. You have never actually done it, so you have no idea what you are talking about. I won’t pretend to act like I know exactly what it’s like to be a pharmacist or an elderly right-wing extremist as I have never been either.

  21. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Pro teacher, anti pork, anti baloney, of WEAC and the educrats. Education spending has gone up over 10 times since 1970, more pork rolled in and still the educrats whine. Worse, the results have gone down. MPS national disgrace along with dozen other Left run schools.
    This site is the place where all good Lefties come to whine.

  22. Vincent Hanna says:

    Hate WEAC and “educrats” and MPS all you want WCD. That hardly makes you unique or insightful. But that’s entirely different from spouting nonsense like teachers are overpaid and only work 170 days a year.

    Do you think being hateful is any better than whining? Because all you do here is spew hatred. What does that accomplish exactly? Do you feel good about yourself, in your twilight years, hating on everything? Is that how you cope with the fact that this country looks different from the one you grew up in?

  23. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    We do not hate anyone, just expose the corruption, and ineptness of the Left. MPS “national disgrace “plus the white, lilberal, males, racists that have run Milwaukee into the ground via crime, human trafficking, heroin, corruption, top ten worst managed, 57% youth unemployment, worst poverty, kids cant read, 50% roads a wreck. You do have a trolley and a new 500 million dollar ball court.
    Thtatis who you are defending.

  24. Vincent Hanna says:

    Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

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