Category Archives: state government employment

Bureaucracy and Public Health: Census Bureau Public Employment and Payroll Data for March 2016 and March 2006

This post is about employment and payroll in the Public Health, Financial Administration, Other Government Administration, Judicial and Legal, and Other and Unallocable functions, as delineated by the U.S. Census Bureau.  I group these categories because they overlap. While the Health function, according to the Census Bureau, includes “provision of services for the conservation and improvement of public health, other than hospital care” it also includes “health related inspections – inspection of restaurants, water supplies, food handlers, nursing homes, agricultural standards or protection of agricultural products from disease” along with animal control. In the “Other and Unallocable” category, similarly, one finds “protective inspection and regulation” and “code enforcement” among other things. The “Central Staff Services” included with “Other Government Administration” includes not only local politicians and their personal staffs but also clerks, recorders, and planning and zoning agencies. And while state courts and prosecutors in the “Judicial and Legal” category deal with criminal law and major civil lawsuits, local courts typically handle cases dealing with local ordinances. Parking and noise tickets for example.

All and all, these are the sort of public employees one would typically find at city halls, town halls, village halls, and county office buildings, rather than out providing public services.   And in New York City, their number is on the rise.

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Transportation: Census Bureau Public Employment and Payroll Data for March 2016 and March 2006 (And Related Private Employment)

One of the depressing aspects of reading the book Greater Gotham  is seeing, summarized in one place, how a generation built much of the infrastructure and created most of the institutions that make New York City what it has been and is today.   What a generation!  Most of the firsts – the Brooklyn Bridge, Central and Prospect Parks, the first Croton Aqueduct and Reservoir, the first rapid transit lines, etc. had been built before the consolidation of the five boroughs into the City of New York in 1898.  But after consolidation public investment went into a massive overdrive.  One in stark contrast with the past 20 years, when despite addition of 600,000 jobs, 1 million people, and $billions in additional tax revenues, the city and state have failed expand the city’s infrastructure significantly and, in the case of the subway, failed to adequately maintain the infrastructure that already existed.  That infrastructure and public amenities such as parks and libraries had been cash cowed and left to rot by the generations that departed to the suburbs, partially restored in a revival that few expected at the time (thanks to the best of another generation), but then left to rot once again by those same sorts of people who wrecked the city to start with, and who still control the state government, notably the state legislature.

But how many people are employed allowing New York City to fall apart, at the highest state and local government tax burden (excluding taxes on oil, gas and mineral extraction) in the country, while attempting to defer the consequences until another generation of insiders can retire to tax-free Florida?  This post will use data from the Governments Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, and Employment and Wages data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to find out with regard to transportation.

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Public Safety: Census Bureau Public Employment and Payroll Data for March 2016 and March 2006

Back in the high crime era, apologists for law enforcement would often say that you can’t put a cop on every corner.  If there was ever a place that tried, however, it is the City of New York. Local government full time equivalent employment for the police, corrections and fire protection functions totaled 961 per 100,000 city residents in March 2016, up from 924 in March 2014 and more than double the U.S. average of 445 per 100,000 people. But this is an understatement, because the city is so densely populated.  Measured per 100 acres, New York City would be even more out of line with the U.S. average.   According to the New York City Department of Transportation,

“As of June 30, 2011, there were 12,460 intersections with traffic signals citywide, including 2,820 in Manhattan, 1,605 in the Bronx, 4,371 in Brooklyn, 3,119 in Queens and 545 in Staten Island.”

Not every intersection has a traffic signal.  But with a total of 49,479 police officers in New York City, as reported by the Census Bureau, a cop for every one of them is a real possibility.

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Census Bureau Public Employment Data: Higher Education Employment and Payroll in March 2016 and March 2006

Public elementary and secondary schools were one of the last public services state and local governments started to slash, as the consequences of Generation Greed’s future selling policies hit home after the year 2000.   State colleges and universities, revenue-producing sports excluded, were one of the first.  So one does not find additional cutbacks in public higher education employment in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut or the U.S. as a whole from March 2006 to March 2016, particularly since enrollment – and student debt to pay for college — tended to be on the rise over the those years.

One does find a drop in community college employment, generally classified as local government employment, relative to population from March 2006 to March 2016.  More recently, politicians have noticed community colleges, and started to invest in them as an alternative to the four-year colleges increasingly impoverished Americans can no longer afford.  Perhaps in the near future community colleges and vocational training will also be seen as an alternative to the last two years of high school, which fiscally collapsing and indebted state and local governments can no longer afford.

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State and Local Government Employment and Pay Per Employee: Census Bureau Data for FY 2016 Compared With FY 2006

Note:  this post is obsolete.  You can read a new, more detailed series of posts on state and local government employment and payroll for 2017, 2007 and 1997 starting here:

Since these are Census of Governments years, data is available for every county in New York and New Jersey, and selected counties elsewhere.  Continuing with the older post as originally written.

The U.S. Census Bureau released state and local government and payroll data for March 2016 last fall, and I compiled it over the past few weeks to see how things changed between March 2006 and that year.  It appears that in New York City some of the reduction in local government employment relative to population was reversed from March 2014 to March 2016.   And it appears than New York City’s local government workers became better off in cash pay relative to private sector workers from 2006 to 2016.  Benefit costs, particularly those for the retired, were soaring at the same time.  I didn’t find the reduction in NYC mass transit employment I expected, based on cuts in service and maintenance.  Meanwhile, the number of students per instructional employee fell to 8.4 in New York City and 7.4 in the rest of New York State.

Those are just some tidbits.   As is my custom, however, while the spreadsheet with the tables and charts may be downloaded from this post, my analysis and understanding of what it means will be presented in later posts. What I’d like is for people to read the background information presented below, download the spreadsheet, look at the tables, and make up their own minds before reading what I have to say about it.

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State and Local Government Employment in 2002 and 2014: Bureaucracy, Judicial and Legal, and Public Health Employment and Payroll

I will once again end a tabulation of state and local government data from the U.S. Census Bureau with a brief discussion of the Financial Administration, Other Government Administration, Judicial and Legal, and Public Health functions. This will be a limited review, because there isn’t much to add to the more detailed employment and payroll data from the 2012, 2002, and 1992 Census of Governments, which I analyzed here.

And the data from the government finances phase of the Census of Governments that I wrote about here.

Because the level of employment and pay in New York’s courts has been an issue, however, I’m going to examine that more closely for March 2002 and March 2014.

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State and Local Government Employment in 2002 and 2014: Infrastructure and Public Amenities

There are places in this country, generally rural areas, where people don’t get very much from state and local government other than schools, state police, and a road. Instead of public water and sewer, they have private wells and cesspools. Instead of municipal garbage pickup and disposal, they have to take their trash to the dump or pay someone else to do it. Instead of public libraries and parks, they have their own books and backyards. And, as in most of the country, there is no mass transit, no roads that are safe to bicycle or walk, not even many shared rides. Drive your own vehicle or be stranded.

New York City is, at least or based on its state and local tax burden and charges for services ought to be, the complete opposite of this. It has municipal water, sewer, solid waste pick-up, and mass transit. Highly developed at a high density, with most people having small or no private yards, city residents rely on public parks and related facilities for exercise and recreation. And the city has a network of public libraries, most within walking distance, even as most information shifts to the internet. One would, therefore, expect New York City’s public employment in these categories to be higher than the U.S. average. But how much higher? And is this fair value compared with what people could purchase themselves?

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State and Local Government Employment in 2002 and 2014: Health Care, Social Services and Housing

Health care and social assistance, along with payments to individuals, account for the largest share of government spending for the federal, state and local governments combined. They are distinguished from other government functions in two important ways. First, most of the funding comes from the federal government, even for programs that are administered by states, cities and counties. And second, most of the work is done by private, often non-profit organizations under contract or voucher systems, rather than by public employees.

This is the fifth post in a series on state and local government employment for FY 2002 to FY 2014, based on data from the Governments Division of the U.S. Census Bureau. Data on private employment in sectors substantially funded by government programs was also included in the analysis, and will be particularly important for this post. New York State in general, and New York City in particular, have had far more spending in these categories than most other places. This is explained in part by the state’s Medicaid program, the most extensive and expensive in the country, and in part by New York City’s relatively high poverty rate, although that gap is closing. And in part by New York’s virtually unique commitment to public intervention in the multifamily housing market, rather than just in subsidies for suburban expansion. The high level of spending on NYC health care, social services and housing, combined with continued high poverty and high housing costs in the city, has, over the years, raised questions about how much value has been received for the tax dollar. While employment data cannot answer those questions, it can provide some insights.

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State and Local Government Employment in 2002 and 2014: Police, Correction and Fire

One of the big issues in last year’s New York City budget negotiations was the level of police staffing. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the politicians it helps keep in office asserted that without thousands of additional dues-paying members, New Yorkers would no be longer kept safe. The debate went on and on for months, with many articles and reports from many news sources based on many press releases and statements from many interested parties. Through it all, however, I cannot recall a single report providing objective information on how many police officers New York City already has, relative to its population, compared with other places. In the end the number of officers was increased by 1,000, although I don’t recall any PBA statements conceding that its members were willing to keep us safe in exchange.

This is the fourth post in a series on state and local government employment for FY 2002 to FY 2014, based on data from the Governments Division of the U.S. Census Bureau. The data shows that while police officer employment is down per 100,000 residents in New York City compared with 12 years earlier, mostly due to falling behind the city’s population growth (though the number of officers also decreased), it remains at the same ratio it has been relative to the U.S. average. New York City had 2.8 times as many police officers per 100,000 residents as the U.S. average at a time that New Yorkers were being threatened if they didn’t’ pay up for thousands more, and nobody deigned to even talk about this.

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State and Local Government Employment in 2002 and 2014: Higher Education

In the United States, more government workers are employed in elementary and secondary education than any in other local government function, and indeed any government function period. At the state level, however, more government workers are employed in colleges and universities than in any other function. In March 2014, according to data from the Governments Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, the states employed 547 full time equivalent workers in state colleges and universities per 100,000 people, up from 523 back in March 2002. This figure did not include most community colleges, which are generally assigned to local government, but did include the four year colleges of the City University of New York, now tabulated as state government despite its historic association with the City of New York.

The fact that state higher education employment actually increased relative to population over 12 years is surprising, given press coverage of reductions in services and courses available to students over those years. One reason may be that the large “Baby Boom Echo” generation was passing through the college years during this time, and may have been more likely to linger in graduate school given the job market in the aftermath of the great recession. The college age population has started to fall more recently and with it, college enrollment, according to press reports. This data, however, still raises a fundamental question. Given that the purpose of higher education purportedly is education, why were there more than twice as many full time equivalent state government higher education non-instructional workers in March 2014 than there were instructional workers?

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