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We’ve updated our Payday California site, which tracks how local government employees are compensated. It now includes 2013 data, the latest available from the state.

Cities and counties spent more than $39 billion in 2013 to pay more than 654,000 workers, from police officers and book repairers to auditors and building inspectors. Those figures are up slightly from 2012 but not yet at the levels of 2009, when communities spent about $41 billion to pay more than 700,000 employees.

California had the fourth-highest average salary for all local government employees in 2013, down from third in 2009, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.  It also is one of 12 states that saw a decrease in total pay for local government employees during that period.


The data in Payday California is based on payroll information that California’s 482 cities and 58 counties report annually to the state controller. The controller began requiring the reports, now in their fifth year, after officials in the small Southern California town of Bell came under fire for enriching themselves with taxpayer money.

The deadline to report 2013 data was in October, but the controller is still waiting for Yuba County and the cities of Glendale and Solana Beach to submit their information. As of April 20, data from the rest of the state’s communities show small upticks in the number of employees and total payroll. Cities and counties employed 1.6 percent more people and spent about 0.6 percent more to pay them in 2013 than they did in 2012.

As we reported in December, the controller does not request employee names from local governments. Payday California includes additional compensation data, obtained through public records requests to communities, that shows employee names in the largest counties and cities from 2008 through 2012.

You can explore Payday California for these employees and see how their compensation compares to other workers in their community, as well as to their peers around the state. For more about how we built Payday California, see our methodology.

This story was edited by Jennifer LaFleur and copy edited by Sheela Kamath. 

Joanna Lin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @joannalin.

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Joanna Lin is a data reporter for Reveal. She previously covered K-12 education and health for California Watch, a project of The Center for Investigative Reporting. She also was a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and the Los Angeles Times, where she covered breaking news and wrote stories on religion and legal affairs for the metro and national desks. A San Francisco Bay Area native and graduate of the University of Southern California, Lin is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.