Credit: Smart Media Creative

Payday California, our site that tracks how local government employees are compensated, now includes 2014 data, the latest available from the state.

Cities and counties employed more than 670,000 people in 2014, including nurses, law enforcement officers, custodians and lifeguards. Their total pay, more than $41 billion, is the highest since 2009, the first year for which the state compiled local compensation data. That year, communities spent nearly $41 billion on wages for more than 700,000 workers.


California’s 482 cities and 58 counties submit payroll information annually to the state controller. The deadline to report 2014 data was in October, but the controller is still waiting for information from Modoc County and the cities of Carmel-by-The-Sea, Fort Jones and Montague.

Data from the rest of the state’s communities show that the number of employees grew 2 percent from 2013 through 2014. Average wages hovered around $60,000. When adjusted for inflation, pay remained flat among county workers and fell by just over 1 percent among city workers.

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

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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.