MassOpenBooks: A Look at Departments with the Highest Average Pay

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Ever wonder which public departments in Massachusetts pay their employees the highest average salaries? MassOpenBooks, Pioneer Institute’s government transparency tool, categorizes state government payroll data to make that information easily accessible.

Below is a table listing the top departments by average pay for the past five years. In 2018, the Department of State Police was at the top of the list. Employees there made an annual average of $109,613, $20,752 more than the next highest-paying department.

The State Police had the highest average pay every year since 2011. Since at least 2004, it has been either the highest or second highest-paying state agency. From 2004 to 2018, average pay there has increased by 30 percent; it has been in the six-figures since 2015. In 2018, 1,881 employees were paid over $100,000, representing 58 percent of department employees.

The District Attorneys’ Association ranked second in 2018 highest average pay and has been among the top 10 departments since 2010. From 2010 to 2018, average pay there rose 26 percent.

In 2018, average annual state employee pay was $59,844, $49,769 less than the State Police. Considering the State Police overtime abuse scandal, it’s more important than ever for the Commonwealth to keep a watchful eye over large variances in average pay. MassOpenBooks facilitates that public vigilance.


Ana Rijal is a Wellesley Freedom Project intern for Pioneer Institute. She is a rising junior studying Psychology and Philosophy.