By The Numbers: How many local government public welfare bureaucrats are there? 

Ever find yourself wondering about some arcane corner of the data world? You know, like how do the states rank on per-capita number of public welfare employees working for local jurisdictions within their borders?

You don’t? Well, that’s probably fortunate because if you did, you might do what I just spent 25 minutes doing, browsing the U.S. Census Bureau’s wonderful web site, downloading data on state population, and state and local government employment by function, then doing some calculations.

So, here we go:

Top 10 states ranked by local government public welfare employees per 100,000 residents

New York                           256

Wisconsin                         249

New Hampshire              241

Ohio                                   228

Minnesota                        208

California                         189

Pennsylvania                  178

North Carolina                174

North Dakota                 164

New Jersey                     146

Source: U.S. Census Bureau data, author’s calculations, employees per 100,000 population.

Surprised? Actually there are some surprises there, at least for me. I expected California to rank higher and closer to New York, for example.

But what really surprises me is the presence of North Carolina and North Dakota – yes, North Frigid Dakota – in the top 10. And whoever expected to see New Hampshire with the third highest number of local government workers handling public welfare duties?

What does this exercise prove? For one thing, it’s getting ridiculously easy for anybody with an Internet connection and minimal capabilities with Excel to learn all kinds of fascinating facts about what is being done with our tax dollars.

That ought to scare the dickens out of government employees everywhere because it represents a level of transparency and, ultimately, accountability that is unprecedented.

If you want to duplicate my little exercise here, go here on the Census web site and start noodling. And as soon as I figure out how to do it, I will add a link to my little spreadsheet, so you can see the other 40 states and we can compare notes.

To see the spreadsheet I used, go here.

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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