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POSTED: Saturday, September 12, 2009

Question: Why is that, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures for 2000 (”;Kokua Line,”; Aug. 28), nearly 6 percent of our state's population works for our state government, while in Maine, a state with almost exactly the same number of people, only 2.3 percent of the population works for the state? Can you find somebody (preferably not a spokesperson for our state employee unions) who is able and willing to explain to our public why this is the case? The 6 percent doesn't even include federal and county workers.

Answer: The reason the state government employs so many workers, per capita, is because a lot of their jobs are handled by county/local government workers in other states.

The biggest example of this is education (see following question).

“;On the mainland, county employees, for example, are teachers, airport workers, port workers”; and four or five other job categories, said Lawrence “;Bill”; Boyd, a labor economist with the Center for Labor Education and Research at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu.

In Hawaii the state employs those workers.

“;It kind of makes sense because Hawaii is an extremely small state with most of its population on one island, smaller than Rhode Island,”; Boyd said. “;So they've essentially taken county employees and put them on the state payroll.”;

It's more accurate to compare the sizes of government payrolls by checking census statistics combining state and local government workers, he said.

In that case, Hawaii would be ranked in the mid-20s among the states, Boyd said, whereas, just looking at the number of state employees, Hawaii would be ranked among the top states, percentage-wise, because so many county functions are handled by the state.

“;It's just an anomaly that's an organizational thing,”; Boyd said. “;It doesn't mean anything.”;

Question: Regarding the figures you gave about the number of state employees, did the numbers for Hawaii include the Department of Education?

Answer: Yes, they did.

The latest Census Bureau figures available, from March 2007 and found in the State Data Book—see hsblinks.com/q4—showed Hawaii had 70,409 total employees—51,289 full-time and 19,120 part-time.

Of those, education (including higher education) accounted for the largest bloc of employees: 47,480—30,463 full-time and 17,017 part-time.

Elementary and secondary instructional employees (Department of Education) accounted for 25,289 employees—19,140 full-time and 6,149 part-time. All other elementary and secondary education employees totaled 8,871—4,576 full-time and 4,295 part-time.

Higher education instructional employees totaled 4,397—2,717 full-time and 1,680 part-time. All other higher education employees totaled 8,788—3,897 full-time and 4,891 part-time.

Listed under “;other education”; were 133 full-time and two part-time employees.

Here's the breakdown for other state areas:

» Libraries: 778 total, 473 full-time, 305 part-time
» Public welfare: 951 total, 920 full-time, 31 part-time
» Hospitals: 4,572 total, 3,984 full-time, 588 part-time
» Health: 2,580 total, 2,499 full-time, 81 part-time
» Social insurance administration: 242 total, 238 full-time, four part-time
» Highways: 848 total, 842 full-time, six part-time
» Air transportation: 999 total, 990 full-time, nine part-time
» Water transport and terminals: 208, all full-time
» Corrections: 2,367 total, 2,357 full-time, 10 part-time
» Natural resources: 1,338 total, 1,049 full-time, 289 part-time
» Parks and recreation: 660 total, 141 full-time, 519 part-time
» Financial administration: 732 total, 731 full-time, one part-time
» Judicial and legal: 2,457 total, 2,385 full-time, 72 part-time
» Other government administration: 821 total, 666 full-time, 155 part-time
» All other and un-allocable: 3,376 total, 3,343 full-time, 33 part-time