Policy Documents

How Many Oklahomans Does it take to fund One Goverment Job?

Scott Moody and Wendy P. Warcholik –
June 2, 2011

It takes 18 Oklahomans in the private sector to fund one Oklahoma state government job.

In total, for 2009, there were 86,822 state government workers in Oklahoma. These workers earned $4,231,080,000, or an average of $48,733 on a per-job basis. As a result, it would take a total of 1,521,498 private-sector jobs to fund Oklahoma’s state bureaucracy—slightly more people than were employed in the private sector in 2009 (1,236,078).

This may appear confusing at first glance. But keep in mind that this counts only taxes that are directly paid by individuals. It does not include taxes paid by businesses, taxes paid by people with higher-than-average incomes, revenue from matching federal funds (such as Medicaid), or taxes paid by non-residents or retirees. This exercise is meant to illustrate the simple concept that all money spent by government must first come from the private sector and that government employees really are “servants of the people.”

It takes 30 Oklahomans in the private sector to fund one Oklahoma local government job.

In total, for 2009, there were 204,762 local government workers in Oklahoma. These workers earned $9,548,615,000, or an average of $46,633 on a per-job basis. As a result, it would take a total of 6,094,378 private-sector jobs to fund Oklahoma’s local bureaucracy—or 4.9 times the people that were employed by Oklahoma’s private sector in 2009.