One in Six U.S. Jobs Are in Government

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

As Rani Molla reports for the Wall Street Journal, “Nearly 1 in 6 jobs in the U.S. are working for the government, more than any single private industry.” Put another way, every government employee is supported by only five people working in the private economy. In California, nearly 2.3 million people work for government—more than the entire populations of over a dozen states. In Colorado, the figure is 383,646. The number of government workers per 1,000 people ranges from 52 in Nevada to 114 in Wyoming.

What’s the trend? The National Bureau of Economic Research reports, “In 1900, one out of 24 workers was on a government payroll, in 1920, one out of 15, and in 1940, one out of 11. The [1949] ratio . . . is one out of 8 or 9.”

Over the last dozen decades or so, Americans fundamentally rethought their relationship with government. I suggest we should fundamentally revisit that relationship again.

August 7 Update: As Rani Molla points out in a follow-up for the Journal, “the percentage of government jobs out of all nonfarm jobs has actually dropped significantly from its peak in 1975 of 20%.”