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Looking For A Six-Figure Job With Nice Benefits And Great Security? Think California

Looking for a six-figure job with nice benefits and great security?

Think about becoming a public servant in California.

There are currently 218,667 public employees earning $100,000 in the Golden State, according to a study reported in Forbes magazine. That comes to $35 billion in annual payroll. State and local governments dole out hefty salaries to workers at all levels, from top managers to bus drivers and bricklayers.


Image: Forbes Magazine, “In California, according to data captured at, 212 city and small town managers out-earn every governor of the 50 states ($180,000).”

You won’t be surprised to learn that the Los Angeles area is home to the largest number of six-figure “public servants” with 42,000 government workers earning those big bucks. One LA port pilot earned $482,792 for helping cargo ships navigate in and out of the docks. Los Angeles has 43 fire truck drivers or “apparatus operators,” who made more than $200,000 in compensation. Nearly 100 of the city’s beach lifeguards made six-figures, including one who earned more than $250,000.

One Beverly Hills police sergeant earned $320,758 in salary and overtime while a Beverly Hills firefighter made $344,223. The City of Santa Monica has 26 municipal bus drivers making $100,000-plus. By comparison, Greyhound drivers are typically paid between $40,000 and $50,000.

While much of this excess is attributable to awful union contracts, government managers and executives are no slouches when it comes to feeding at the public trough.

The Municipal Utility District of Sacramento pays its CEO $440,646 – more than the President of the United States. The President of California’s Public Utilities Commission earns $550,000. Riverside, California has two assistant city managers, each of whom is paid more than $200,000. San Francisco’s Chief Investment Officer made $507,832—about $60,000 more than the CIO of CalPERS, California’s huge public employee retirement fund.


Image: Forbes Magazine, “California’s largest ‘Big Dog’ governments conferring $100,000+ cash compensation”

There is seemingly no end to the head-shaking examples of lucrative pay for public service. California really needs to address this issue. Every organization, including government, needs to offer competitive pay to recruit and retain good people. But this situation seems out of control and unsustainable in a state that is experiencing an exodus of residents due, in part, to high taxes. Those hefty salaries will also be a burden on government pension plans in the coming years and decades.

Skill and talent need to be rewarded but within the bounds of responsible management of the public’s money. Funny how government officials have no trouble telling teachers exactly that – while often paying themselves and their colleagues handsomely. Shameful.

Related: How Important Is It To Love Your Job?

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