Wisconsin’s Public Sector Leaner than in Most Other States
Wisconsin has fewer public employees for our population than most other states have, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. Wisconsin’s lean public sector is not a recent development; public employment in Wisconsin has been at lower levels than the national average for at least the last two decades.
Wisconsin ranked 37th among the states in terms of state and local government employees per population, meaning that only 13 states have fewer public employees for their population size. For every 100 state and local government employees per population in other states, Wisconsin has only about 95 employees.
In 2012, Wisconsin governments employed 49.4 public employees for every 1,000 state residents. That level of public employment in Wisconsin has stayed level over the past five years or so. The national average is 51.8 public employees for every 1,000 residents, about 5% higher than the rate in Wisconsin.
About six out of 10 public employees in Wisconsin work in education, either in local K-12 schools or in higher education. There are also concentrations of public sector employees working in health and human services, police and fire services, corrections, and transportation. About three-quarters of state and local government employees in Wisconsin work at the local level.
Public employees in Wisconsin earn less than the national average. Public employees earn an average of $3,174 a month in Wisconsin, compared to $3,689 a month nationally. Over the course of a year, that difference means that Wisconsin public sector employees earn an average of $6,200 less than the national average. Part of the reason that Wisconsin public sector employees earn less is that they are more likely to work part-time than in other states, but even the full-time employees in Wisconsin earn slightly less than their full-time equivalents in other states.