The Christian Science Monitor recently reported that more than half of all Americans receive significant income from the government. About one in five Americans holds a government job. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were nearly 300,000 state and local government employees in Arizona last year, or approximately ten percent of the Arizona labor force.
Government employees earn more than private sector employees. The U.S. Department of Labor finds that private industry employees average $25.67 per hour, while state and local government workers average half again as much at $38.26 per hour. In 2006, Arizonans spent over $1 billion on government salaries.
By diverting financial resources away from private enterprise, significant growth in the number of government employees can reduce Arizona's ability to generate wealth, create jobs, serve consumers and drive growth. The legislature should keep an eye on administrative bloat and wages to keep this problem in check.
Noah Clarke is an economist with the Goldwater Institute.
-Christian Science Monitor: 1 in 2 Americans now receives income from government programs
-U.S. Census Bureau: 2006 Public Employment Data: State and Local Governments, Arizona
-U.S. Department of Labor: Employer Costs for Employee Compensation