Nearly 8,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees—including more than 4,800 in the past year—have been added to New York’s state government payroll since the fall of 2006, according to data from the state comptroller’s office.

As of the first pay period in October, the state payroll totaled 239,830 FTE employees.That is the highest total for any comparable period since 1991, the first year of Mario Cuomo’s third term as governor. Under former Governor George Pataki, the third-quarter payroll reached 231,853 FTEs in October 2006.

Based on weighted average biweekly salaries, the two-year increase of 7,979 FTE state employees represents $700 million a year in added compensation costs, including benefits and payroll taxes.Total salary, benefits and payroll taxes for state workers have increased $2.2 billion, or 12 percent, in the last two years.*

Much of the increase resulted from expanded programs included in the first budget proposed by former Governor Eliot Spitzer, who took office in January 2007.Governor David Paterson, who succeeded Spitzer in mid-March of this year, announced hiring freezes in April and again in July.

Including overtime and regional differentials, the average state worker’s salary is $59,717, up 8 percent since 2006. The total cost per employee, including benefits and payroll taxes, now comes to $86,858.

Over half of the state payroll increase in the past two years has been concentrated in higher education, where the number of FTEs has grown by 5 percent in the State University and 11 percent in the City University.

* Total compensation costs were calculated using the Division of the Budget estimate that benefits and payroll taxes average 45.6 percent of salaries across all job titles.

About the Author

Tim Hoefer

Tim Hoefer is president & CEO of the Empire Center for Public Policy.

Read more by Tim Hoefer

You may also like

Sticker Shock: The Impact of a ‘Single-Payer’ Health Plan on New York Taxes

Proponents of “single payer” health care are pushing New Yorkers to take a multi-billion-dollar leap of faith. Read More

Benchmarking New York

New York State residents pay some of the highest local taxes in the nation. Read More

Tiering Up

New York taxpayers have been hit with enormous increases in pension costs for state and local government employees over the past 20 years. From less than $1 billion in 2000, combined annual employer contributions to the Empire State’s public pension funds escalated to nearly $10 billion by 2010, peaking at nearly $17 billion in 2015. Contributions have leveled off at roughly $16 billion in recent years—but under lenient government accounting standards, even that figure conceals the full long-term cost of generous, locked-in pension benefits for generations of retired government employees.  Read More

Medicaid’s Metamorphosis

A new Empire Center report reveals that the New York Medicaid program now covers more individuals above the poverty line than below it. Read More

Perverse Incentives, High Costs and Poor Outcomes

The state’s current and projected fiscal condition make this an appropriate time to examine what drives high special education spending in New York, how it’s serving children and how it can be improved. Read More

Benchmarking New York

New York State residents pay some of the highest local taxes in the nation. To help New Yorkers compare some of the basic fiscal measures for local governments, the Empire Center for Public Policy continues to calculate effective property tax rates and per-capita values for the spending, debt and tax levels of counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts throughout the state, excluding only New York City. Read More

Tax cap offers strongest shield to NY’s poorest school districts

Over the past seven years, New York’s cap on local property tax levies has generated billions of dollars in savings for homeowners and businesses, compared to previous trends. The cap has been especially effective in restraining school property taxes, which have long been the largest and fastest-growing component of New York’s tax burden. Read More

Benchmarking New York

Compare the taxes, spending and debt of local governments across New York State. Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries:

Press Inquiries:


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!