If you haven’t already, you should download this spreadsheet linked in the first paragraph of this post and print out the “local output” and “state output” tables, before reading what I have written here. The data shows that according to public employment data from the Governments Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 3,980 full time equivalent local government workers per 100,000 people in the United States in March 2010, about the same proportion as in March 2002. In 2010 local government employment was somewhat higher relative to population in New Jersey at 4,414, and substantially higher relative to population in New York City at 5,135, and in the rest of New York State at 5,084.
New York City’s higher local government employment is explained by the broad range of municipal services provided here, including public water, public sewer, public transit, professional fire protection, municipal garbage collection, and extensive public housing, hospitals and social services for the poor. The city’s local government employment, moreover, was slightly lower relative to population in 2010 than it had been in 2002. Extensive services are much less of an explanation for the high level of local government employment in the rest of New York State, since not all areas of the rest of New York State have all these services. Local government employment in the rest of the state, moreover, has been soaring for two decades, with increase from 4,683 per 100,000 residents to 5,084 just over the eight years in the table.