Data: EXography

EXography: 19 U.S. cities have proportionately bigger workforces than bankrupted Detroit

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1 city employee for every how many residents?

Cities have wildly varying civil servant workforces relative to their population size, from 1 city worker for every 28 residents in San Francisco to only 1 for every 137 residents in San Diego. Red circles represent cities with the most expansive bureaucracies, while green represent the leanest. A full list follows.
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Detroit declared bankruptcy due in no small part to $3 billion in unfunded public employee pensions owed a sprawling city workforce that kept growing even as the city’s population shriveled, but a Washington Examiner analysis found that 19 major American cities have even bigger ratios of such workers to residents.

The Examiner used the Census Bureau's 2011 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll to rank every U.S. city with a population of 200,000 or more.

Some of those cities managed to get along fine with comparatively few municipal employees, such as San Diego, which has 9,501 employees for 1.3 million residents, or one for every 137 residents.

But others like San Francisco had a bureaucracy seven times as large, with one of every 28 of the city's 800,000 residents on the city payroll.

Remarkably, the Census Bureau excluded from these figures all teachers and education professionals, which make up the largest group of local government employees.

The figures also do not include separate government divisions that comprise significant portions of many urban public workforces, like the 1,200-employee Baltimore City Housing Authority, the 1,000-employee Philadelphia Housing Authority and the 2,300 employee Chicago Park District.

Transit systems, such as the 9,500-worker Chicago Transit Authority and New York's 7,000-person Port Authority, are also not counted.

In different places, levels of government have different cost-sharing arrangements, with the state, county and special taxation districts for services like sewage picking up part of the tab, so these figures represent somewhat less than all of the government employees for which residents of a jurisdiction support with tax dollars.

That also means that a simple comparison of city workforces -- especially between cities in different states -- doesn't always show the full picture.

Washington, D.C. ranks first in the nation, which is no surprise to residents who recall the dramatic growth of the municipal workforce in the 1980s under then-mayor Marion Barry, who created hundreds of new positions to help reduce unemployment and encourage growth of a black upper-middle class.

But D.C. also has the distinction of providing services that in many other places are often split among multiple levels of government, including state, local and county authorities.

The District’s status as the national capital makes the burden on other cities all the more dramatic, cities like Baton Rouge, with one in 30 residents a city employee; Richmond, at one in 39; Denver, with one in 49; Cleveland and St. Louis, at one in 50; and Philadelphia and Atlanta with one in 51.

Philadelphia's city council president this week began pushing a plan to use part of a 1-percent sales tax hike to pay for city worker pensions, which are significantly underfunded.

Some cities such as Rochester have, like Detroit, seen dramatic population losses without commensurate reductions in the city workforce, illustrating what many see as government's tendency always to grow bigger, without ever losing wasteful or obsolete programs.

San Francisco's 28,660 workers, with an average salary of $91,000, come in a long tail of different job categories, including 2,000 health employees -- not including city hospitals --1,843 welfare workers, 2,872 judicial and corrections officers, 1,081 parks workers, and 1,171 in "other government administration." The city by the bay’s 4,266 transit workers do not include Bay Area Rapid Transit employees presently striking for a 21 percent pay increase.

The city with the leanest government is Bakersfield, Ca., which has 1,410 employees for 348,000 residents, or one for every 246. The city's population has quadrupled in the last 40 years, and its public employee workforce may have lagged behind. The city is one of California’s most conservative and the largest that employs the lowest sales tax allowed by state law.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated San Diego's population and city workforce and incorrectly said some cities ranking higher than Detroit paid their workers twice as much. An earlier version of the list also displayed some cities' payroll costs as twice their actual dollar amount.

  1. WASHINGTON DC

    Residents per employee 25
    Population: 601,723
    Employees: 23,631
    Annual payroll: $1,738,914,588
    Average salary: $73,846
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  2. SAN FRANCISCO

    Residents per employee 28
    Population: 805,235
    Employees: 28,660
    Annual payroll: $2,564,000,376
    Average salary: $90,702
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  3. BATON ROUGE-EAST BATON ROUGE

    Residents per employee 30
    Population: 229,493
    Employees: 7,566
    Annual payroll: $336,309,768
    Average salary: $47,228
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  4. NEW YORK

    Residents per employee 32
    Population: 8,175,133
    Employees: 252,701
    Annual payroll: $18,645,049,116
    Average salary: $74,270
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  5. RICHMOND

    Residents per employee 39
    Population: 204,214
    Employees: 5,183
    Annual payroll: $245,372,376
    Average salary: $47,905
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  6. BALTIMORE

    Residents per employee 43
    Population: 620,961
    Employees: 14,438
    Annual payroll: $705,692,760
    Average salary: $49,186
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  7. NORFOLK

    Residents per employee 44
    Population: 242,803
    Employees: 5,512
    Annual payroll: $252,770,712
    Average salary: $46,944
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  8. BIRMINGHAM

    Residents per employee 44
    Population: 212,237
    Employees: 4,749
    Annual payroll: $230,290,992
    Average salary: $49,358
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  9. DENVER

    Residents per employee 49
    Population: 600,158
    Employees: 12,233
    Annual payroll: $802,864,752
    Average salary: $66,500
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  10. CLEVELAND

    Residents per employee 50
    Population: 396,815
    Employees: 7,791
    Annual payroll: $425,029,356
    Average salary: $54,929
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  11. ST LOUIS

    Residents per employee 50
    Population: 319,294
    Employees: 6,335
    Annual payroll: $300,266,820
    Average salary: $47,566
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  12. PHILADELPHIA

    Residents per employee 51
    Population: 1,526,006
    Employees: 29,607
    Annual payroll: $1,727,952,204
    Average salary: $58,551
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  13. ATLANTA

    Residents per employee 51
    Population: 420,003
    Employees: 8,091
    Annual payroll: $371,572,752
    Average salary: $45,931
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  14. NEW ORLEANS

    Residents per employee 52
    Population: 343,829
    Employees: 6,593
    Annual payroll: $308,493,468
    Average salary: $47,044
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  15. CINCINNATI

    Residents per employee 52
    Population: 296,943
    Employees: 5,644
    Annual payroll: $316,340,436
    Average salary: $58,324
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  16. SEATTLE

    Residents per employee 56
    Population: 608,660
    Employees: 10,702
    Annual payroll: $839,048,052
    Average salary: $81,488
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  17. NASHVILLE-DAVIDSON COUNTY

    Residents per employee 58
    Population: 601,222
    Employees: 10,362
    Annual payroll: $536,638,152
    Average salary: $52,470
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  18. CHESAPEAKE

    Residents per employee 58
    Population: 222,209
    Employees: 3,819
    Annual payroll: $172,783,464
    Average salary: $46,324
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  19. COLORADO SPRINGS

    Residents per employee 60
    Population: 416,427
    Employees: 6,852
    Annual payroll: $438,830,400
    Average salary: $64,810
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  20. DETROIT

    Residents per employee 61
    Population: 713,777
    Employees: 11,645
    Annual payroll: $651,437,244
    Average salary: $56,491
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  21. AUSTIN

    Residents per employee 63
    Population: 790,390
    Employees: 12,445
    Annual payroll: $740,342,856
    Average salary: $59,830
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  22. INDIANAPOLIS

    Residents per employee 65
    Population: 820,445
    Employees: 12,433
    Annual payroll: $588,926,688
    Average salary: $48,000
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  23. BOSTON

    Residents per employee 65
    Population: 617,594
    Employees: 9,390
    Annual payroll: $687,645,792
    Average salary: $74,347
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  24. ROCHESTER

    Residents per employee 65
    Population: 210,565
    Employees: 3,228
    Annual payroll: $186,459,144
    Average salary: $60,800
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  25. VIRGINIA BEACH

    Residents per employee 68
    Population: 437,994
    Employees: 6,423
    Annual payroll: $294,678,480
    Average salary: $48,023
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  26. KANSAS CITY

    Residents per employee 69
    Population: 459,787
    Employees: 6,646
    Annual payroll: $357,365,988
    Average salary: $53,771
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  27. MEMPHIS

    Residents per employee 70
    Population: 646,889
    Employees: 9,150
    Annual payroll: $507,987,720
    Average salary: $56,115
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  28. MONTGOMERY

    Residents per employee 71
    Population: 205,764
    Employees: 2,885
    Annual payroll: $121,177,596
    Average salary: $42,301
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  29. NEWARK

    Residents per employee 72
    Population: 277,140
    Employees: 3,803
    Annual payroll: $265,014,924
    Average salary: $71,267
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  30. LOS ANGELES

    Residents per employee 73
    Population: 3,792,621
    Employees: 51,270
    Annual payroll: $4,608,662,892
    Average salary: $93,517
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  31. MINNEAPOLIS

    Residents per employee 74
    Population: 382,578
    Employees: 5,111
    Annual payroll: $310,851,072
    Average salary: $62,309
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  32. JERSEY CITY

    Residents per employee 75
    Population: 247,597
    Employees: 3,287
    Annual payroll: $234,672,708
    Average salary: $73,220
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  33. MADISON

    Residents per employee 75
    Population: 233,209
    Employees: 3,101
    Annual payroll: $183,011,076
    Average salary: $62,233
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  34. LONG BEACH

    Residents per employee 77
    Population: 462,257
    Employees: 5,983
    Annual payroll: $410,081,880
    Average salary: $71,824
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  35. LEXINGTON-FAYETTE

    Residents per employee 77
    Population: 295,803
    Employees: 3,800
    Annual payroll: $201,660,984
    Average salary: $54,827
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  36. BUFFALO

    Residents per employee 77
    Population: 261,310
    Employees: 3,366
    Annual payroll: $180,983,196
    Average salary: $53,759
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  37. CHICAGO

    Residents per employee 78
    Population: 2,695,598
    Employees: 34,226
    Annual payroll: $2,162,142,732
    Average salary: $63,362
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  38. TAMPA

    Residents per employee 79
    Population: 335,709
    Employees: 4,244
    Annual payroll: $270,084,336
    Average salary: $64,744
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  39. DALLAS

    Residents per employee 82
    Population: 1,197,816
    Employees: 14,494
    Annual payroll: $814,660,320
    Average salary: $56,767
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  40. ALBUQUERQUE

    Residents per employee 83
    Population: 545,852
    Employees: 6,502
    Annual payroll: $398,229,912
    Average salary: $63,630
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  41. ST PETERSBURG

    Residents per employee 83
    Population: 244,769
    Employees: 2,943
    Annual payroll: $170,042,328
    Average salary: $61,006
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  42. ORLANDO

    Residents per employee 85
    Population: 238,300
    Employees: 2,799
    Annual payroll: $169,484,436
    Average salary: $60,697
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  43. SAN ANTONIO

    Residents per employee 86
    Population: 1,327,407
    Employees: 15,280
    Annual payroll: $796,107,408
    Average salary: $52,835
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  44. JACKSONVILLE

    Residents per employee 87
    Population: 821,784
    Employees: 9,368
    Annual payroll: $518,509,872
    Average salary: $55,593
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  45. LOUISVILLE-JEFFERSON COUNTY

    Residents per employee 87
    Population: 741,096
    Employees: 8,439
    Annual payroll: $400,161,696
    Average salary: $48,309
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  46. GREENSBORO

    Residents per employee 87
    Population: 269,666
    Employees: 3,086
    Annual payroll: $137,038,248
    Average salary: $45,467
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  47. SCOTTSDALE

    Residents per employee 87
    Population: 217,385
    Employees: 2,476
    Annual payroll: $155,652,708
    Average salary: $65,924
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  48. MILWAUKEE

    Residents per employee 90
    Population: 594,833
    Employees: 6,542
    Annual payroll: $399,847,008
    Average salary: $61,729
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  49. SPOKANE

    Residents per employee 91
    Population: 208,916
    Employees: 2,286
    Annual payroll: $153,561,948
    Average salary: $69,750
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  50. OAKLAND

    Residents per employee 92
    Population: 390,724
    Employees: 4,228
    Annual payroll: $375,334,392
    Average salary: $98,705
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  51. WINSTON-SALEM

    Residents per employee 92
    Population: 229,617
    Employees: 2,486
    Annual payroll: $100,539,168
    Average salary: $41,905
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  52. PITTSBURGH

    Residents per employee 94
    Population: 305,704
    Employees: 3,251
    Annual payroll: $183,233,388
    Average salary: $57,387
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  53. HOUSTON

    Residents per employee 95
    Population: 2,099,451
    Employees: 22,059
    Annual payroll: $1,140,951,912
    Average salary: $51,786
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  54. ST PAUL

    Residents per employee 96
    Population: 285,068
    Employees: 2,959
    Annual payroll: $197,583,036
    Average salary: $70,108
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  55. DURHAM

    Residents per employee 96
    Population: 228,330
    Employees: 2,378
    Annual payroll: $112,143,168
    Average salary: $48,988
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  56. LINCOLN

    Residents per employee 98
    Population: 258,379
    Employees: 2,612
    Annual payroll: $157,254,120
    Average salary: $62,528
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  57. COLUMBUS

    Residents per employee 99
    Population: 787,033
    Employees: 7,945
    Annual payroll: $503,920,356
    Average salary: $64,280
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  58. LAREDO

    Residents per employee 99
    Population: 236,091
    Employees: 2,375
    Annual payroll: $116,091,072
    Average salary: $48,988
    Back to map
  59. MIAMI

    Residents per employee 101
    Population: 399,457
    Employees: 3,923
    Annual payroll: $239,597,040
    Average salary: $62,217
    Back to map
  60. TULSA

    Residents per employee 101
    Population: 391,906
    Employees: 3,856
    Annual payroll: $217,373,424
    Average salary: $56,632
    Back to map
  61. DES MOINES

    Residents per employee 101
    Population: 203,433
    Employees: 2,011
    Annual payroll: $122,120,820
    Average salary: $62,298
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  62. HONOLULU

    Residents per employee 102
    Population: 953,207
    Employees: 9,281
    Annual payroll: $554,356,008
    Average salary: $60,572
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  63. PORTLAND

    Residents per employee 102
    Population: 583,776
    Employees: 5,680
    Annual payroll: $419,504,328
    Average salary: $76,186
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  64. FAYETTEVILLE

    Residents per employee 102
    Population: 200,564
    Employees: 1,962
    Annual payroll: $90,331,896
    Average salary: $46,362
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  65. PHOENIX

    Residents per employee 103
    Population: 1,445,632
    Employees: 13,924
    Annual payroll: $941,073,264
    Average salary: $68,685
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  66. CHARLOTTE

    Residents per employee 103
    Population: 731,424
    Employees: 7,075
    Annual payroll: $393,563,064
    Average salary: $56,793
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  67. RALEIGH

    Residents per employee 104
    Population: 403,892
    Employees: 3,855
    Annual payroll: $187,869,924
    Average salary: $50,506
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  68. TUCSON

    Residents per employee 105
    Population: 520,116
    Employees: 4,941
    Annual payroll: $272,491,392
    Average salary: $56,664
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  69. ANCHORAGE

    Residents per employee 107
    Population: 291,826
    Employees: 2,711
    Annual payroll: $221,606,988
    Average salary: $82,605
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  70. EL PASO

    Residents per employee 108
    Population: 649,121
    Employees: 5,990
    Annual payroll: $284,580,360
    Average salary: $48,155
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  71. SACRAMENTO

    Residents per employee 110
    Population: 466,488
    Employees: 4,210
    Annual payroll: $316,070,400
    Average salary: $78,823
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  72. CORPUS CHRISTI

    Residents per employee 111
    Population: 305,215
    Employees: 2,731
    Annual payroll: $127,412,628
    Average salary: $47,201
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  73. PLANO

    Residents per employee 111
    Population: 259,841
    Employees: 2,325
    Annual payroll: $125,333,880
    Average salary: $55,789
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  74. LUBBOCK

    Residents per employee 111
    Population: 229,573
    Employees: 2,061
    Annual payroll: $105,823,020
    Average salary: $52,161
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  75. FORT WORTH

    Residents per employee 116
    Population: 741,206
    Employees: 6,386
    Annual payroll: $384,494,976
    Average salary: $61,492
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  76. HENDERSON

    Residents per employee 116
    Population: 257,729
    Employees: 2,218
    Annual payroll: $162,553,056
    Average salary: $84,549
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  77. IRVING

    Residents per employee 119
    Population: 216,290
    Employees: 1,814
    Annual payroll: $96,686,304
    Average salary: $53,491
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  78. MESA

    Residents per employee 120
    Population: 439,041
    Employees: 3,657
    Annual payroll: $246,420,648
    Average salary: $68,086
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  79. WICHITA

    Residents per employee 120
    Population: 382,368
    Employees: 3,165
    Annual payroll: $139,741,584
    Average salary: $44,364
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  80. GLENDALE

    Residents per employee 122
    Population: 226,721
    Employees: 1,846
    Annual payroll: $105,543,180
    Average salary: $57,527
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  81. AURORA

    Residents per employee 125
    Population: 325,078
    Employees: 2,595
    Annual payroll: $168,310,392
    Average salary: $65,168
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  82. BOISE

    Residents per employee 127
    Population: 205,671
    Employees: 1,616
    Annual payroll: $88,900,644
    Average salary: $57,760
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  83. FORT WAYNE

    Residents per employee 128
    Population: 253,691
    Employees: 1,968
    Annual payroll: $103,642,020
    Average salary: $53,757
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  84. TOLEDO

    Residents per employee 131
    Population: 287,208
    Employees: 2,176
    Annual payroll: $122,330,088
    Average salary: $56,174
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  85. OKLAHOMA CITY

    Residents per employee 134
    Population: 579,999
    Employees: 4,307
    Annual payroll: $263,404,176
    Average salary: $62,632
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  86. FRESNO

    Residents per employee 134
    Population: 494,665
    Employees: 3,666
    Annual payroll: $240,205,392
    Average salary: $67,341
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  87. ANAHEIM

    Residents per employee 134
    Population: 336,265
    Employees: 2,507
    Annual payroll: $198,163,080
    Average salary: $91,351
    Back to map
  88. HIALEAH

    Residents per employee 135
    Population: 224,669
    Employees: 1,658
    Annual payroll: $89,348,052
    Average salary: $59,193
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  89. SAN DIEGO

    Residents per employee 137
    Population: 1,307,402
    Employees: 9,501
    Annual payroll: $733,740,216
    Average salary: $78,759
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  90. RIVERSIDE

    Residents per employee 137
    Population: 303,871
    Employees: 2,217
    Annual payroll: $172,106,688
    Average salary: $82,233
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  91. NORTH LAS VEGAS

    Residents per employee 138
    Population: 216,961
    Employees: 1,565
    Annual payroll: $124,909,584
    Average salary: $84,923
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  92. SAN BERNARDINO

    Residents per employee 138
    Population: 209,924
    Employees: 1,514
    Annual payroll: $109,000,392
    Average salary: $76,463
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  93. OMAHA

    Residents per employee 144
    Population: 408,958
    Employees: 2,834
    Annual payroll: $174,635,364
    Average salary: $65,248
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  94. ARLINGTON

    Residents per employee 145
    Population: 365,438
    Employees: 2,512
    Annual payroll: $146,719,644
    Average salary: $60,252
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  95. CHANDLER

    Residents per employee 145
    Population: 236,123
    Employees: 1,628
    Annual payroll: $110,387,592
    Average salary: $69,670
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  96. GARLAND

    Residents per employee 151
    Population: 226,876
    Employees: 1,495
    Annual payroll: $123,097,884
    Average salary: $82,251
    Back to map
  97. SAN JOSE

    Residents per employee 159
    Population: 945,942
    Employees: 5,929
    Annual payroll: $560,249,784
    Average salary: $99,774
    Back to map
  98. MODESTO

    Residents per employee 166
    Population: 201,165
    Employees: 1,206
    Annual payroll: $77,639,928
    Average salary: $67,535
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  99. RENO

    Residents per employee 183
    Population: 225,221
    Employees: 1,230
    Annual payroll: $102,023,352
    Average salary: $88,758
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  100. STOCKTON

    Residents per employee 184
    Population: 291,707
    Employees: 1,579
    Annual payroll: $119,034,384
    Average salary: $79,927
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  101. GILBERT

    Residents per employee 187
    Population: 208,453
    Employees: 1,112
    Annual payroll: $66,440,136
    Average salary: $60,892
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  102. SANTA ANA

    Residents per employee 205
    Population: 324,528
    Employees: 1,578
    Annual payroll: $146,751,120
    Average salary: $99,070
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  103. CHULA VISTA

    Residents per employee 219
    Population: 243,916
    Employees: 1,112
    Annual payroll: $86,037,216
    Average salary: $79,618
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  104. LAS VEGAS

    Residents per employee 225
    Population: 583,756
    Employees: 2,594
    Annual payroll: $214,499,880
    Average salary: $88,113
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  105. IRVINE

    Residents per employee 233
    Population: 212,375
    Employees: 909
    Annual payroll: $73,011,048
    Average salary: $91,705
    Back to map
  106. FREMONT

    Residents per employee 241
    Population: 214,089
    Employees: 887
    Annual payroll: $91,125,960
    Average salary: $108,076
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  107. BAKERSFIELD

    Residents per employee 246
    Population: 347,483
    Employees: 1,410
    Annual payroll: $98,569,512
    Average salary: $70,840
    Back to map
 
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