The 10 States With the Most Federal Government Employees

Headshot of Tim Smart.
Tim Smart

The threat of a government shutdown has become a common event in Washington.

That repeatedly looming prospect can bring worry to federal workers who make sure the planes are flying, the food on the table is safe, the financial markets are not rigged and the homeland is protected, as they can face the possibility of postponed paychecks.

More than 2 million civilians are employed by the U.S. government, and while a shutdown is of special concern to the many federal employees in the District of Columbia and its surrounding areas, these workers have a presence in every state in the union. A prominent West Coast state, for example, is home to more federal civilian workers than the two states that abut the nation’s capital, which itself is home to approximately 160,700 civilian employees for the government. And some Southern states are federal employee hubs.

Notably, government shutdowns also can have trickle-down effects on area businesses like retail stores and restaurants that rely on federal paychecks being partially spent within their establishments. Industries like tourism can take a hit, too, with the shuttering of museums or other attractions.

These are the 10 states with the highest numbers of federal civilian workers, according to figures included in a report from the Congressional Research Service and reflecting data as of March 2023. Uniformed military personnel and federal contractors are excluded.

  • California: 142,038
  • Virginia: 140,397
  • Maryland: 138,942
  • Texas: 122,864
  • Florida: 88,646
  • Georgia: 77,034
  • Pennsylvania: 63,560
  • Washington: 54,526
  • Ohio: 52,583
  • New York: 51,716

*Some departments and agencies are excluded. Some agency employees near the nation’s capital are recorded as working in D.C., and some locations are suppressed or withheld. See here for more information.

About the Author: Tim Smart is a U.S. News contributor. Follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn or email him at TSmart@usnews.com.

This blog originally appeared at U.S. News on Feb. 28, 2024.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.