Over five years, this type of Utah business added nearly 7 percent more employees. The wages it paid grew by 25 percent. Does it sound like it was booming?

Well, those numbers are for employment by Utah's 599 state and local governments, according to data released Wednesday from a once-every-five-years census of them by the U.S. Census Bureau.

It shows that state and local governments in Utah — including the state, counties, cities, school districts, water districts and special districts — had 131,802 full-time equivalent employees in 2007, an increase of 8,328 since 2002.

That means roughly one of every 13 Utah adults worked for such governments last year

— from schoolteachers to police officers, road workers and more.

Utah governments added about 50 percent more workers than the national average: up by 6.7 percent, compared to 4.5 percent nationally.

Utah governments increased their payrolls by 25.1 percent compared to 22 percent average nationally. The total 2007 payroll for employees of Utah governments was $462 million.

Royce Van Tassell, vice president of the watchdog Utah Taxpayers Association, said, "The size of government here is growing, so that is always a concern to taxpayers." But he said that much of it appears to be for some wise investment in education.

"When you look at payroll increases, there appears to be significant investment in K-12 education," he said. "That reflects important choices that the Legislature has made to invest more in children."

In elementary and secondary education, Utah governments added 2,493 more full-time equivalent teachers — a 7.5 percent increase over the five years. Payroll for teachers increased 31.5 percent.

But the biggest increases among all government employees — both in number of employees and payroll — came for higher education instructors.

The state added 3,047 such full-time equivalent professors (a whopping 59 percent increase) in five years. The payroll for such college instructors increased by 63 percent over the five years.

Other types of government workers with the biggest increase in employees: financial administration, up 31 percent; library workers and water supply workers, both up 23 percent; solid waste workers, up 22 percent; hospital workers, up 20 percent; and housing and community development workers, up 19 percent.

The types of government workers who lost the most employees include: mass transit workers, down 8 percent; highway workers, down 6 percent; social insurance administration workers, down 5 percent; and natural resource workers, down 3 percent.

Increases for some other types of government workers of interest include: police officers, up 11 percent; firefighters, up 16 percent; corrections officers, up 7 percent; parks and recreation workers, up 13 percent; and state liquor store workers, up 16 percent.

The state government is the largest of the 599 governments in Utah, and employed about two of every five government workers. The number of its employees grew by 3.8 percent over the five years (a bit less than the national average), and its payroll grew by 24.6 percent (a bit more than average).

The other 598 local governments increased their number of employees by 8.7 percent (nearly twice the national average), and their payroll grew by 25.4 percent.


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