Busting the myth of small government conservatism in Alaska and beyond

myths factsThe New York Times confirms what many in Alaska already knew: we’re a big government state that hates big government. Another way of looking at it: we’re a big government state that’s completely hypocritical about our hatred of big government.

But at least we’re not alone.

The paper has a graphic and corresponding story about how, with few exceptions, states with a larger government presence are states which vote Republican, at least in the last presidential race. And the opposite is also true. Out of the 15 states with the lowest level of government employment, only two — Indiana and Tennessee — voted Republican.

The NYT made a graphic of government employment in all states. 24.9 percent of employed Alaskans work for the government. Only Wyoming beats Alaska, with 25.2 more government workers as a percentage of all employees. New Mexico, which did not vote Republican in the last election, comes in third.

The average percentage of government workers in all states is 16 percent.

Another interesting factoid from the NYT: since Republican Sean Parnell has been governor,  total government employment in the state has risen 3.9 percent.

Digging into those numbers shows that in 2012, there were 15,858 state employees, according to the Alaska Department of Labor. That’s more than a 5 percent increase since 2007, when the state had 15,064 employees. Not coincidentally, that was the year that oil prices began their rise, from $60 dollars a barrel to more than $100.

In 2007, the governor’s office, for one, employed 133 people. Five years later, in 2012, the governor’s office employed 143 people. That’s more than a 7.5 percent increase.

Also, since 2007, the average monthly salary of workers in the governor’s office has risen more than 20 percent, from $5238 a month to $6297 a month.

In the private sector, which Republicans laud, the increase was only about 17 percent during the same time period.

So much for small government conservatism.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com