California's Decade of Ridiculously Growing State Employee Costs

Watch the fiscal disaster unfold.


When do they start flying it upside-down?

California increased its number of state employees by 9.3 percent over the past ten years. That tracks with census data. But the payroll costs of its employees jumped 42.4 percent. The Sacramento Bee has the details to make you want to smack something into something else in response:

In 2001, the state had the "full-time equivalent" of 372,678 employees and was paying them $1.7 billion a month. By 2011, the FTE's, as they are dubbed, had increased to 407,321 and payroll costs to $2.4 billion.

Over the 10-year span, which included two major recessions separated by a brief period of economic expansion during the housing boom, FTE's in higher education, the largest single component of the state workforce, increased by 23 percent from 128,665 to 158,229, and prison payrolls, the second largest, jumped by a nearly identical amount—from 48,896 to 60,007. Offsetting declines occurred in transportation agencies and state hospitals.

State employment in 2011 was also slightly lower than in 2010, but the decline was less than the 1.4 percent nationwide drop in state payrolls. Year-to-year declines in other states ranged as high as 7 percent in Arizona while a few states recorded employment increases, topped by 13.3 percent in Arkansas.

Keep in mind California's prison population has been dropping since halfway through the decade (partly forced by the state's Supreme Court to ease overcrowding).


NEXT: The Government Watches You, But Who Watches the Government?

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  1. No sweat, guys. The solution to this problem is obviously to establish a new governmental organ whose sole purpose will be to investigate and minimize expenditures.

    Of course, it’ll need to be funded extensively. $10,000,000,000 should do the trick.

    This will control the problem by HERPA DERP and leprechaun beard and unicorn farts and Ensign Harry Kim.

    Our logic is undeniable.

    /CA government.

    1. i feel for one of my good friends. he’s a firefighter, his wife is a dispatcher

      they are both sucking the govt. teat and paying into a pension system (and have been for 2 decades) and god knows what they will get out of it.

      the firefighter thing IS a pretty cush deal.

      9 days a week at work. lots of opps for overtime. the public loves you and worships the ground you walk on.

      if firefighting wasn’t so insanely boring, i would have stayed with it, instead of doing the cop route.

      also, i LOVE to cook, which is a huge plus and if you can cook good food for your coworkers in the firehouse, you are a valued employee

      getting paid $45 an hour to sit in the station house and play xbox etc. while you wait for the next band-aid medical call etc.

      it’s a nice gig.

      1. I wouldn’t want to do it. I was hospitalized for six weeks from burns covering a large portion of my upper body (luckily not my face). Mine were from hot oil and and not flames but I have no doubt the blisters would be just as painful. If there is anything more painful than wHat I experienced I can’t imagine what it would be. Then there is the working with layers of equipment on next to a raging fire for however long it takes. No thanks.

      2. getting paid $45 an hour to sit in the station house and play xbox etc. while you wait for the next band-aid medical call etc.

        Your forgot wash the truck. They’re always washin’ the truck.

        Oh, and feeding the dalmations.

        1. Fuck dogs. Raptors is where the shit’s at, dude.

          Getting a fully grown bald eagle to do your bidding is pretty badass, for instance.

          1. Not to mention those yummy bald eagle egg omelets you get. I like to cook mine in baby seal fat.

            1. Lol. You win an Internet for skillfully inserting a Monocled Libertarian comment into this subthread. Well played.

            2. Seriously, though, falconry can be awesome. I wish I had the patience to learn something like that.

              1. Yeah, that would be awesome. I remember reading The Falcon and the Snowman and thinking about how cool that would be?

      3. Firefighting _is_ a great job. You just have to be willing to run into a burning building. And _actually_ be willing, not just think you are until the opportunity presents itself.

        1. again, speaking as a former firefighter, who turned to full time police work (i could have gone to full time firefighting or copwork. i chose the latter), that;s true

          but modern firefighting means firefighters (city etc.) rarely have to do that.

          those guys who do the forest fires?!?!

          those fuckers do some seriously bad ass firefighting, but the amount of time city firefighters actually spend on real honest to god ‘backdraft’ type fires is a lot less than most people think these days

          modern fire safety, sprinkler systems, etc. means that this requirement has become a relatively small part of the job.

          that’s why firefighting smartly expanded a lot into medical shit, search and rescue etc

          i love and respect my firefighter brothers, but one of the primary reasons i chose police work was firefighting was boring as fuck. i totally would have chosen it full time if i could actually fight fires a lot

  2. OT:…..o-said-oba

    Eat shit, progressives. It’s an exceptional demonstration of just how much they give a fuck about an independent judiciary.

    “Ebony Messiah was wronged verbally by the redneck Klansman-type judge. Let’s rant and bitch like our vaginas are clogged with quicksand and demand his resignation, because WAAAH.”

    1. Actually RPA I do think that every politition or government official who ever said anything stupid should have to resign. No pension. Two weeks severance max.

      1. Stop being such an awful anti-Enlightened Benevolent Government Employy hatemonger. You just want black kids to starve on the streets. Or something.

        1. How can they work in my platinum mines if they starve? That doesn’t make sense.

          1. If you share some of the platinum with me, I’ll consider becoming a hypocritical, spineless sack of shit and going into professional politics, which will enable me and you to engage in cronyism.

            /Typical would-be politician.

  3. Again with California. Other states are pissing away tax dollars, too, you know.

    1. But California is one of the worst and likely to go bankrupt first. The municipalities are falling in a row as we speak. The counties come next, then the State.

  4. “vaginas are clogged with quicksand”?

    where in the hell did you get that from RPA:)

    1. Fuck this squirrel bullshit. Google “sandy vagina”.

      1. Yeah I’ll have to move from my work computer to the one in my study first but I’ll check it out:)

        1. It’s just an Urban Dictionary entry. No sweat for work.

          1. Urban Dictionary is blocked, as is U-Tube and any social media sites. During NFL Playoffs and March Madness they block ESPN as well.

            1. Ouch.

  5.…..term=Sandy Vagina

    Except about a thousand times worse.

  6. To be fair, some of that 42.4% cost increase is due to price inflation over the decade.

    Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator, $1.70 BILLION in 2001 would equal $2.16 BILLION in 2011. Add on 9.3% more employees and you arrive at $2.36 BILLION, which is close to the $2.4 BILLION per month quoted.

    Based on quick population numbers, it appears that the California population increased by about 9% between 2001 and 2011.

    2001 population = 34,600,463

    2011 population = 37,691,912

    Population growth from 2001 to 2011 (using these estimates) = 8.93%.

    While I don’t see any runaway hiring, I also don’t see the austerity that Jerry Brown keeps claiming.

    1. Regardless, I still recommend that you VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 30, Governor Brown’s tax hike initiative.

    2. Thanks for doing the math. I was roughly trying to figure this out in my head and couldn’t get too far, but it didn’t seem as outrageous as the initial figures inclined to make one feel. I am a CA resident and no fan of the State or J. Brown, but these numbers aren’t exactly evidence of Governors Gone Wild.

  7. According to an SF Comical article a week or so ago, ‘retirement benefits reform’ is the focus of the CA legislature when they decide to go back to work after a summer off.
    Given that the CA legislature is a one-party group, and that party is pretty much owned by the unions that finagled the benes to begin with, it’s an odds-on bet that ‘reform’ will approximate the ‘radical’ cuts in federal spending.
    Figure a 1-2% ‘cut’ on page one (which will be added back in on page 2), and a ton PR in the blue CA rags about how the ‘unions have done their share!’

  8. How has the number of children in school in CA changed in the ten year period discussed?

    I’m guessing that it was either flat or declined slightly, in the face of a 23% growth in the ‘education’ workforce.

    1. I would guess the number of school kids has gone way up over those ten years. We give free education to anyone who wants it, no questions asked, and even have school buses that go to the border for pickup runs.

    2. According to information from the Ed-Data Website, here is the number of students enrolled in California’s public schools.

      2000-2001 school year: 6,050,895
      2010-2011 school year: 6,217,002

      Change in enrollment between 2001-2011: 166,107

      Percentage change in enrollment: 2.7% increase.

      The changing demographics is also interesting using data from Ed-Data.

      CHART: Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity in California Public Schools (1991-2011)

      Blacks: Down 7%
      Whites: Down 25%
      Asian: Up 25%
      Filipino: Up 30%
      Hispanic or Latino: Up 70%

      It begs the question in the post Prop. 187 world: What percentage of that 70% increase in Hispanic or Latino students is due to illegal immigration?

    3. According to information from the Ed-Data Website, here is the number of students enrolled in California’s public schools.

      2000-2001 school year: 6,050,895
      2010-2011 school year: 6,217,002

      Change in enrollment between 2001-2011: 166,107

      Percentage change in enrollment: 2.7% increase.

  9. What I find most disturbing is that the Bee uses an apostrophe for the plural of FTEs.

  10. WA, which is MUCH MUCH better off than california (and when it comes to governance better in almost every way) financially already had their pension reform.

    our old pension system for cops/firefighters, LEOFF-I was RIDICULOUS. and destined to bankrupt WA if it wasn’t changed.

    LEOFF-II imo, is pretty reasonable. but some aspects of it are fucked up. 3 of my partners got shot at a raid and the dept. bean counter was actually threatening to fire one of the three officers because after 7 months he was not at least working light duty. this fucker got PERFORATED , was in massive pain still from multiple gunshot wounds and under WA’s system, once you use up the (relatively) low amount of SSL leave etc. they can simply fire you, even if the injury was line of duty.

    contrast with the old skool NYPD thang where if you couldn’t come back you got like 60% for the rest of your life no questions asked. (probably too generous)

    leoff I was prone to abuse and a lot of frankly crooked cops abused the fuck out of it

    just like in hawaii.

    in hawaii, there was one cop who got a three day suspension for CLEAR misconduct. he said “fuck you” to the dept, and took 6 months of PAID “stress leave” because he claimed that the stress of being suspended caused him so much emotional distress he couldn’t work

    and his leave was upheld. they couldn’t do a thing about it

    that shit is crooked as hell. that kind of police misconduct drives me fucking nuts

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