Number of Public Employees Declining
Wisconsin now ranks behind 36 states in number of public employees per capita.
1. Compared to other states, Wisconsin has a smaller public sector
Wisconsin has a smaller public sector for its size than all but 14 states, according to a new analysis from the Wisconsin Budget Project. For every 100 state and local government employees in other states, Wisconsin has only 97. If Wisconsin had the same public employment-to-resident ratio as other states, Wisconsin would have an additional 8,600 public employees.
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 significant decline over the last 15 years. The number of public employees per 1,000 Wisconsin residents has fallen about seven percent since 2001, from 53.3 employees per 1,000 residents to 49.4.
3. There are three times as many local government employees in Wisconsin as state employees
There were 212,600 full-time equivalent employees working in local government in Wisconsin in 2016, compared to 72,700 in state government. That means three-quarters of public employees worked 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.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 new analysis: Wisconsin’s Public Sector is Smaller than Most Other States’.