In New England, Massachusetts leads job growth – for state employees

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I reached out about a month and a half ago to Governor Patrick’s office to see if they could help understand how, after bipartisan support for cutting state jobs through the recession, the state actually added to its payroll. As usual, despite numerous phone calls and e-mails, I was told someone would “be in touch” … and then nothing. While I still hold out hope that one day we’ll get an answer about how headcounts grew throughout round after round of supposed layoffs, it might be more practical in the meantime to compare the Commonwealth to its peers to better understand how other state governments have handled a reduction in income when it comes to their staffing levels.

Massachusetts leads the pack in state public hiring in New England: Between 2006 and 2010, according to Census-supplied data, Massachusetts’ number of state Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) employees has risen 4.8 percent (from 90,989 in 2006 to 95,354 in 2010). Rhode Island saw the deepest cuts, slimming its state FTE workforce by 9 percent. Maine, which ended fiscal 2011 with a surplus of  about $50 million, trimmed its FTE payroll by 550 employees, or 2.5 percent.

I’ve charted the New England states and their number of state employees below. For fun, I added a few of the states which have shown budget surpluses recently (Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio). Click on the image to go to an interactive version of the chart.

state employees

Budget surpluses aren’t necessarily a good gauge of fiscal responsibility, but these three states, plus Maine, have aggressively cut state positions during the recession.

State Total Added: Percent Added:
Rhode Island -1,900 -9.225988152
Maine -550 -2.536900369
Vermont -207 -1.416353062
Tenessee -246 -0.295968334
Indiana -250 -0.278399537
Connecticut 1,228 1.981572026
New Hampshire 394 2.06542252
Ohio 3,067 2.241303712
California 17,044 4.330185539
Massachusetts 4,365 4.797283188
Texas 36,190 12.84599712

California is not far behind Massachusetts in terms of percentage of state jobs added, but Texas (buoyed by its natural resources) laps both of them (neither California nor Texas were included in the graph because of the scale).

The U.S. Census Bureau was the initial source for all the employment data cited.