3. New Mexico
More than 20% of New Mexico’s workforce was employed by state and local governments, the third highest proportion in the country. The relatively large public sector workforce was likely necessary to provide services for the state’s widely dispersed population. There were just 17 people per square mile in the state, the sixth lowest population density nationwide. Rural populations also do not have the same economic advantages cities provide, and public sectors tend to be larger in areas with relatively small private sectors. At just $39,825, New Mexico had one of the lowest GDPs per capita in the country. New Mexico’s nearly 22% poverty rate also may have strained state and local public services. Like several other states with large shares of the labor force employed by state and local governments, just over 50% of the state’s population 16 years and older had a job, one of the lowest proportions in the country. The presence of several large government research facilities also raised the the concentration of federal jobs, which accounted for nearly 4% of the workforce, the fifth highest such share in the country.