State Employment Grows while More North Carolinians Lose Jobs

The number of state government employees in North Carolina has risen at a healthy clip at the same time the private sector lost 50,000 jobs.

North Carolina state government added 34,824 full-time equivalent positions from 2001 through 2009, an increase of 12.3%.[1] Conversely, North Carolina’s private sector shed 49,900 jobs during that time, a workforce reduction of 1.6%.[2]

These divergent employment trends mean that the number of private sector workers to each state employee has dropped from 11.4 to 10.


December 2001

December 2009

Number of Jobs Added (Lost)

% Change from 2001-2009

Private Sector





State Government





Ratio of Private Sector Workers to State Employees

As state government absorbs a larger and larger share of the state’s labor market, North Carolina taxpayers should be concerned for a number of reasons:

  • Growing government consumes more resources from the productive economy, meaning less productive investment for future job growth and income gains.
  • A shrinking number of private sector workers supporting each state employee places a larger tax burden on the remaining private sector workers.
  • A growing state workforce increases long-term budgetary obligations such as salaries, benefits and pensions. The state budget already faces massive deficits, and its already unsustainable growth rate has been well documented.

The contrast between increasing state employees and declining private sector jobs underscores the continued growth of state government in North Carolina. More and more of this state’s resources – including labor – are being controlled by the State.

[1] State government employee count taken from North Carolina Fiscal Research Division’s Full-Time Equivalent Budgeted Position Counts, a survey conducted annually in December. Available at:

The survey represents full-time equivalent positions, not actual workers. Thus two part-time employees working 20 hours each would be counted as one full time employee. Therefore, the actual number of state employees is underestimated in this data. The survey, however is the only comprehensive data available for number of state workers and reflects the most accurate information readily available.

[2] Private sector job count taken from North Carolina Employment Security Commission, Current Employment Statistics data. Available at:

(unadjusted job numbers taken from Dec. of each year for comparison to state government employee data)

This article was posted in Economy by Brian Balfour on May 24, 2010 at 9:57 AM.

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