Looking for a job in state government? According to the U.S. Census of Governments, your best prospects could be in Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Wyoming and Arkansas. These states, respectively, topped the list of states with the highest percentage growth in state government employment between 2002 and 2007.

On the other hand, you might want to stay away from Illinois, Louisiana, Idaho, South Carolina, and Maryland, which experienced the greatest declines in state government employment over the same period.

With a 16 percent increase in state government jobs, Montana experienced the highest growth rate of all states.

Nationally, state employment figures grew by 2.5 percent; 29 states had rates higher than the national rate, and 21 states had lower rates. The Census data reflects total state government employment – full-time, part-time, and full-time-equivalent – across all government sectors.

The water transport and terminals and judicial and legal sectors saw gains, while sewerage and social insurance administration posted the biggest overall losses for state government jobs across the country.

The Census of Governments is conducted every five years, in years ending in 2 and 7.

In today’s troubled economy, uncertainly looms in almost all areas of employment – and in most areas of the country. However, prior to the recession, government employment rose, perhaps to peak levels.

With an increasing number of state and local governments struggling with financial pressures, the trend in government employment figures will be one to watch.

Trends in State Government Employment: 2002-2007 (percentage change)
 Montana  16.6%
 North Dakota  11.1%
 Nevada  10.6%
 Wyoming  10.0%
 Arkansas  9.2%
 Illinois  -12.2%
 Louisiana  -10.0%
 Idaho  -4.7%
 South Carolina  -4.6%
 Maryland  -3.2%