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

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