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Best and worst paying states for public employees

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Matt Wade Photography // Wikicommons

Best and worst paying states for public employees

Love it or hate it, the United States government is a major player in our economy. With 2.7 million employees on its payroll, the U.S. federal government is the single largest employer in the world while over 20 million people, or about 11 percent of the total labor force, are employed by the public sector at the local, state, or federal levels.

Using the 2016 Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll, we discovered which states had the best- and worst-paid state and local government employees (federal employees were not surveyed). The survey provides the total amount of money paid out to public employees in March 2016. Dividing the total March Payroll by the number of full-time public employees yields the average monthly salary.

For each state, we've included the industries within state and local employment that rank best and worst for monthly pay. The education sector revealed a disparity: higher education came in highest across 36 states while elementary and secondary school employees were the worst paid in forty-one states.

We begin our list with the states with the lowest average monthly salary for public employees and work our way to the state where state and local employees receive the highest pay.

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Ken Lund // Flickr

#51. Mississippi

Monthly average salary for all Mississippi state and local employees: $3,489

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $5,256

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,026

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jglazer75 // Wikicommons

#50. Arkansas

Monthly average salary for all Arkansas state and local employees: $3,561

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $7,512

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,104

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David Wilson (davidwilson1949) // Wikicommons

#49. West Virginia

Monthly average salary for all West Virginia state and local employees: $3,603

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $6,432

Lowest paid industry: Parks and Recreation with an average monthly salary of $2,556

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James Johnson // Wikicommons

#48. Oklahoma

Monthly average salary for all Oklahoma state and local employees: $3,649

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $7,176

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,272

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RebelAt // Wikicommons

#47. Missouri

Monthly average salary for all Missouri state and local employees: $3,746

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $6,796

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,394

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Acdixon // Wikicommons

#46. Kentucky

Monthly average salary for all Kentucky state and local employees: $3,810

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $8,369

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,076

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Brent Moore // Flickr

#45. Tennessee

Monthly average salary for all Tennessee state and local employees: $3,828

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $6,628

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,351

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Jim Bowen // Flickr

#44. South Dakota

Monthly average salary for all South Dakota state and local employees: $3,850

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $6,392

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,545

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Jim Plylar // Wikicommons

#43. Louisiana

Monthly average salary for all Louisiana state and local employees: $3,857

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $7,265

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,031

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DXR // Wikicommons

#42. Georgia

Monthly average salary for all Georgia state and local employees: $3,862

Highest paid industry: Water Transport and Terminals with an average monthly salary of $7,276

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,393

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Chris Pruitt // Wikicommons

#41. Alabama

Monthly average salary for all Alabama state and local employees: $3,897

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $7,570

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,006

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Florencebballer // Wikicommons

#40. South Carolina

Monthly average salary for all South Carolina state and local employees: $3,917

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $7,233

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,524

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Aviper2k7 // Wikicommons

#39. Kansas

Monthly average salary for all Kansas state and local employees: $3,951

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $6,862

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,439

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Jasont82 // Wikicommons

#38. Indiana

Monthly average salary for all Indiana state and local employees: $3,991

Highest paid industry: Gas Supply with an average monthly salary of $6,182

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,737

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JSquish // Wikicommons

#37. Idaho

Monthly average salary for all Idaho state and local employees: $4,019

Highest paid industry: Education - Other with an average monthly salary of $6,412

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,119

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Albany NY // Wikicommons

#36. Maine

Monthly average salary for all Maine state and local employees: $4,058

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $6,174

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,971

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N salazar // Wikicommons

#35. New Mexico

Monthly average salary for all New Mexico state and local employees: $4,108

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $8,536

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,596

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W Edward Callis III // Wikicommons

#34. North Carolina

Monthly average salary for all North Carolina state and local employees: $4,151

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $7,100

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,449

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Martin Kraft // Wikicommons

#33. Montana

Monthly average salary for all Montana state and local employees: $4,202

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $6,872

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,750

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Michael Rivera // Wikicommons

#32. Florida

Monthly average salary for all Florida state and local employees: $4,249

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $9,190

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,825

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Kumar Appaiah // Wikicommons

#31. Texas

Monthly average salary for all Texas state and local employees: $4,252

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $9,187

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,639

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Carol M. Highsmith

#30. Nebraska

Monthly average salary for all Nebraska state and local employees: $4,418

Highest paid industry: Electric Power with an average monthly salary of $7,638

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,887

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Skip Plitt - C'ville Photography // Wikicommons

#29. Virginia

Monthly average salary for all Virginia state and local employees: $4,526

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $8,091

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,785

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W Edward Callis III // Wikicommons

#28. North Dakota

Monthly average salary for all North Dakota state and local employees: $4,532

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $7,579

Lowest paid industry: Hospitals with an average monthly salary of $3,003

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Wikicommons

#27. Arizona

Monthly average salary for all Arizona state and local employees: $4,536

Highest paid industry: Electric Power with an average monthly salary of $8,679

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,614

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Alexander Smith // Wikicommons

#26. Ohio

Monthly average salary for all Ohio state and local employees: $4,537

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $7,636

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $2,848

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Robert Cutts // Wikicommons

#25. Utah

Monthly average salary for all Utah state and local employees: $4,542

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $9,434

Lowest paid industry: State liquor stores with an average monthly salary of $2,627

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Petr Kratochvil // PublicDomainPictures.net

#24. Vermont

Monthly average salary for all Vermont state and local employees: $4,552

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $8,787

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,412

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AlexiusHoratius // Wikicommons

#23. New Hampshire

Monthly average salary for all New Hampshire state and local employees: $4,641

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $8,241

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,307

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Postdlf // Wikicommons

#22. Wyoming

Monthly average salary for all Wyoming state and local employees: $4,679

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $6,304

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,114

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MuZemike // Wikicommons

#21. Wisconsin

Monthly average salary for all Wisconsin state and local employees: $4,789

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $7,202

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,305

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Ken Lund // Flickr

#20. Delaware

Monthly average salary for all Delaware state and local employees: $4,802

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $8,496

Lowest paid industry: Parks and Recreation with an average monthly salary of $3,113

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Stephen Matthew Milligan // Wikicommons

#19. Iowa

Monthly average salary for all Iowa state and local employees: $4,856

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $8,934

Lowest paid industry: Water Transport and Terminals with an average monthly salary of $275

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Cliff // Wikicommons

#18. Hawaii

Monthly average salary for all Hawaii state and local employees: $4,894

Highest paid industry: Police Protection - Persons with Power of Arrest with an average monthly salary of $7,854

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,430

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Ad Meskens // Wikicommons

#17. Pennsylvania

Monthly average salary for all Pennsylvania state and local employees: $4,965

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $8,526

Lowest paid industry: State liquor stores with an average monthly salary of $3,562

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Knapp.keith // Wikicommons

#16. Colorado

Monthly average salary for all Colorado state and local employees: $5,004

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $9,076

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,162

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Wikicommons

#15. Michigan

Monthly average salary for all Michigan state and local employees: $5,064

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $9,347

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,155

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M.O. Stevens // Wikicommons

#14. Oregon

Monthly average salary for all Oregon state and local employees: $5,091

Highest paid industry: Fire Protection - Firefighters with an average monthly salary of $8,060

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,412

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McGhiever // Wikicommons

#13. Minnesota

Monthly average salary for all Minnesota state and local employees: $5,136

Highest paid industry: Water Transport and Terminals with an average monthly salary of $7,738

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,392

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ok-59 // Flickr

#12. Nevada

Monthly average salary for all Nevada state and local employees: $5,313

Highest paid industry: Fire Protection - Firefighters with an average monthly salary of $9,217

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,756

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Jon Platek // Wkicommons

#11. Illinois

Monthly average salary for all Illinois state and local employees: $5,344

Highest paid industry: Fire Protection - Other with an average monthly salary of $8,342

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,432

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K Whiteford // PublicDomainPictures.net

#10. Maryland

Monthly average salary for all Maryland state and local employees: $5,432

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $7,663

Lowest paid industry: Solid Waste Management with an average monthly salary of $3,812

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Marco Almbauer // Wikicommons

#9. Massachusetts

Monthly average salary for all Massachusetts state and local employees: $5,521

Highest paid industry: Police Protection - Persons with Power of Arrest with an average monthly salary of $8,246

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,763

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chensiyuan // Wikicommons

#8. Rhode Island

Monthly average salary for all Rhode Island state and local employees: $5,601

Highest paid industry: Corrections with an average monthly salary of $7,101

Lowest paid industry: Water Transport and Terminals with an average monthly salary of $3,091

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Jay Galvin // Wikicommons

#7. Alaska

Monthly average salary for all Alaska state and local employees: $5,689

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $8,780

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,600

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Wikicommons

#6. Connecticut

Monthly average salary for all Connecticut state and local employees: $5,736

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $8,836

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,923

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Cacophony // Wikicommons

#5. Washington

Monthly average salary for all Washington state and local employees: $5,908

Highest paid industry: Fire Protection - Firefighters with an average monthly salary of $8,744

Lowest paid industry: Public Welfare with an average monthly salary of $4,666

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Matt Wade Photography // Wikicommons

#4. New York

Monthly average salary for all New York state and local employees: $6,035

Highest paid industry: Electric Power with an average monthly salary of $8,117

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $3,758

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Smallbones // Wikicommons

#3. New Jersey

Monthly average salary for all New Jersey state and local employees: $6,135

Highest paid industry: Education - Higher Education Instructional with an average monthly salary of $10,491

Lowest paid industry: Air Transportation with an average monthly salary of $3,865

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Henri Sivonen // Wikicommons

#2. California

Monthly average salary for all California state and local employees: $6,697

Highest paid industry: Fire Protection - Firefighters with an average monthly salary of $10,853

Lowest paid industry: Education - Elementary and Secondary Other with an average monthly salary of $4,138

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Diego Delso // Wikicommons

#1. District of Columbia

Monthly average salary for all District of Columbia state and local employees: $7,053

Highest paid industry: Financial Administration with an average monthly salary of $8,276

Lowest paid industry: Solid Waste Management with an average monthly salary of $5,151

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