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January 21, 2009 / jimnv

State Employees: How many are there and how much do they earn?

I have been asked, “How much do state employees earn?” Frankly I don’t know. There are many salary numbers “out there”  and the answers are based on how the question is asked (context is very important) and by whom.  I ran across an article in the Nevada Appeal dated November 27, 2008, where Teresa Thienhaus the Nevada Personnel Director was asked that question.  I know from experience she can be trusted to provide accurate information so here are the numbers as of last fall with some additional calculations and comments from me.

          Authorized positions: 20,800

          Vacant positions (Not counting the University System):  2,687 

                    The vacant positions represent 13 percent of the total. There are 18,113 filled positions.

The Legislature must authorize every position so money can be allocated to them. This does not mean they are automatically filled and usually those which go unfilled are permanently eliminated. If an agency wants the position back they have to start all over with Departmental approval, then the Governor through the Executive Budget process and finally the Legislature. It is a difficult process and involves lots of paperwork and scrutiny.

          Average salary: $55,403

Based on a the number of hours compensated in a year which is 2,080, this is $26.64/ hour.

There are many high paid employees on the state payroll such as doctors, attorneys, psychiatrists and department directors so the average is skewed upward because of this. These employees are usually “unclassified” with limited rights. The average salary of a “classified” employee is probably closer to $44,000 a year or $21.15/ hour. Thousands of state employees earn less than this.  

These are not “exhorbant” salaries as many of our critics like to claim.




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