There are a lot of details that go into how much the governor state earns each year. Some states have massive populations which require governors to be very hands-on and work nearly around the clock. In these states, governors are paid extremely well to the point where they find themselves in the upper class of the United States.
Out of all of the states that have the highest-paid governors, many of them are probably what you’d expect. Then, there are a couple that come as pretty big surprises. Let’s take a look at the five states who pay their governors the most and how they came to be such high-paying jobs (even higher than a United States Representative).
The fifth-highest-paid state is the first surprise entry onto the list. While Washington is by no means small, it’s a bit of a shock to see them pay their governor so much. Washington is the 13th-most populated state in the country at over 7.7 million, which puts it in the same neighborhood as the likes of Arizona and Virginia. However, Arizona has one of the lowest salaries for a governor in the entire country.
Washington’s governor is paid over $187,000 per year, which is more than triple what the average American makes per year. As one of the leading states in terms of employee salary, Washington is one of those smaller states that has kept up with inflation compared to many others. For that reason, there are probably some people who weren’t shocked to see Washington ranked so high as it’s considered one of the best states to work in overall because of the wages.
You don’t have to go too far down the population rankings from Washington to find Tennessee. While the Pacific Northwest state is ranked 13th in population, Tennessee is just two spots behind with a population of over 7 million. Tennessee has seen a large influx in population due to the Nashville metropolitan area, with locals saying that they’ve never seen a boom like this in their lives.
Though the population increase has put Tennessee higher on the list in terms of largest states, the governor has always been a highly paid job in the Volunteer State. Tennessee was hanging around the top 10 early in the 21st century and saw a huge increase in salary when the population increased to make it a top-five paying state.
People who have never really been to Pennsylvania might think of the state mostly for its rolling landscape, mining, and steel industry, the state actually has one of the largest populations in the country. There are around 13 million people in Pennsylvania, many of which are within the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metro areas. Pennsylvania is the fifth-largest state and the third-highest-paying for governors.
Out of all of the states, Pennsylvania perhaps has the best history of making sure that their governor is well compensated. At multiple points throughout history, Pennsylvania has had the highest-paid governor in the country, though the wage hasn’t increases as quickly during the 21st century as some of the other states to balance things out.
Many of those who came into this list assumed that California would be ranked either number one or number two on the list, and those suspicions are confirmed. California is far and away the most populated state in the country with nearly 40 million residents. As a result, the governorship is the second-highest paid in the country, which makes sense due to the sheer size of the area covered, as well.
California has been in the number one spot on the list multiple times throughout the state’s history, but has switched spots a handful of times. Now, California is solidly in the second position ahead of Pennsylvania, which at one point surprisingly paid more than California. Unless the state purges millions of people suddenly, that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
Though it’s the fourth-most populated state in the country and not all that large in terms of area compared to others, New York has the highest-paid governor in the United States and it’s not particularly close. There’s a lot of wealth in New York, especially as it’s home to the largest city in the United States. With around 20 million people total in the state, there are plenty of folks for the governor to preside over, too.
There have been many significant increases to the governor’s salary in New York over the years, and it wasn’t too long ago that the state was behind California at the top of the list. After more than a 12 percent jump in salary, though, New York comfortably took the top position, surpassing its counterpart to the west.