Counting All Pennsylvania State Employees

A state lawmaker sent along a Patriot New article, in which Gov. Rendell cites the relatively low number of Pennsylvania state employees compared to other states, to find out where the numbers came from:

[Rendell]: I found it amusing when Governor Sanford was going through his problems, that he apologized to 65,000 state employees in South Carolina, a state half our size, and they have 65,000 employees and we have 77,000.

It is true that Pennsylvania ranks low among state in term of state and local government employees per capita – 478 per 10,000 residents, vs. U.S. average of 546 – but not so low as Rendell makes it out to be, as he is not using an apples-to-apples comparison.

The “77,000 employees” Rendell refers to is the current filled positions in the Pennsylvania state complement – but only positions under the Governor’s control. According to the Census Bureau data on government employment, which has a nifty chart maker, Pennsylvania had 192,000 state employees as of 2007 (160,000 in full-time equivalent).  This is well more than twice South Carolina’s total of 87,000.

Rendell’s figure excludes the legislative and judicial branches, independent state agencies and authorities (like the Turnpike Commission), and employees in higher education institutions (85,000 according to the Census – I’m not sure if that includes the state-related schools like Penn State, or only the State System and Community Colleges).