The states vary widely in levels of state government and local government employees, calculated on a per-person basis.
Two states have annual payroll costs per person of over $4,000, while many states operate on little more than half that. Only ten states have total government employee payroll costs greater than Kansas, on a per-person basis. (This does not include federal government employees working in Kansas.)
I gathered data from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2012, the most recent year available. Using Tableau Public, I created an interactive visualization. I show the full-time equivalent employees divided by the population for each state. Also, the annual payroll divided by population. (The Census Bureau supplies payroll data for only one month, the month of March, so I multiply by 12 to produce an approximation of annual payroll cost.)
There are two series of data, “Local government” and “State government.” The first series refers to the number of local government employees in each state, such as city and county employees. The second series refers to the number of state government employees in each state. Check boxes allow you to include either or both series in the chart.
By clicking on column headers or footers (“State,” “Annual payroll per person,” Full-time equivalent employees per person”) you can sort by these values.
Use the visualization below, or click here to open it in a new window, which may work best. Data is from United States Census Bureau, Government Employment & Payroll, data released March 2014.
Great interactive tool. However, statewide per capita averages can hide a great deal of variance between individual units of local government in this tool.
The state data is more useful in this regard.