Gov. Tom Corbett proclaimed Wednesday to be State Employee Recognition Day across the commonwealth.

"State employees are on the front lines each day, working to make state government more efficient and responsive for the people of Pennsylvania," the governor said in a prepared statement.

He went on to say that our state workers provide critical services which millions across the commonwealth depend on and that they also make valuable contributions to our communities.

The National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE) reports that there are nearly two millions state government employees throughout the country, including nearly 73,000 full time employees who work in state agencies in Pennsylvania.

It's interesting to note that a study in 2009 showed that the U.S. average of full-time state government employees relative to population was 143 per 10,000 residents. Florida had the lowest ratio at 103, followed by Arizona (105).

When state and local government employees (including education) are added to the mix, the national average is 542 per 10,000 residents. In this more inclusive category, Nevada was the state with the lowest ratio at 436, followed by Arizona (463), Pennsylvania (473), Michigan (475) and Florida (476).

While the 73,000 employees who work full time in Pennsylvania agencies seems a reasonable ratio for the state's population, the sheer size of the federal workforce makes us better understand why so many federal dollars are being lost or mismanaged.

On Wednesday, the same day as the governor was recognizing our state employees, a cousin sent me an interesting email that broke down the population/worker ratio in a lighthearted, but eye-opening way.

It stated:

Ÿ Of this country's population of 300 million, 160 million are retired, leaving 140 million to do the work.

Ÿ There are 85 million in school, which leaves 55 million to do the work.

Ÿ Of this, there are 35 million employed by the federal government, leaving 20 million to do the work.

Ÿ 2.8 million are in the armed forces, which leaves 17.2 million to do the work.

Ÿ 15.8 million work for state and municipal governments, leaving 1.4 million to do the work.

Ÿ At any given time there are 188,000 people in hospitals, leaving 1,212,000 to do the work.

Ÿ There are 1,211,998 people in prisons, leaving just two people to do the work.

You and me.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com [1]