The average salary of Connecticut state employees in 2010 was $51,186, a five percent drop from the previous year, according to an analysis of recently released U.S. Census data.

Connecticut state workers now are the sixth highest paid in the country. The highest average salary? New Jersey government employees, who earn an average $56,179 annually.

At $55,662, New York state workers rank second, recording a 3.4 percent increase over the previous year, the largest increase of any state. California ($53,926), Alaska ($52,772), and Maryland ($51,514) fill out the top five.

Connecticut ranks eighth in per capita share of state worker salaries, with each citizen responsible for $1,125. Alaska ranks first, with $2,225, followed by Hawaii, Delaware, and Vermont.

And while North Dakota ranks last in average salary ($33,895), the state ranks fifth in per capita share ($1,243).

Budgetary decisions

The state payroll analysis comes from CGR Govistics, a project of the Center for Governmental Research, a non-profit policy organization based in Rochester, NY.

“A host of states face critical budgetary decisions in the coming years–New Jersey, New York, California, Rhode Island, Illinois and others," said Joseph Steko, CGR's director of public finance.

"And while efforts to balance state budgets and stabilize state finances cannot ignore employee costs, discussions must be based on fact, not emotion.”

Long term debt

The CGR analysis does not include long-term obligations–the billions of dollars in liabilities represented by pensions and retired state employee healthcare benefits.

According to the Chicago-based Institute for Truth in Accounting, Connecticut has the largest unfunded liability burden of any state–a staggering $63.4 billion. Your share of that debt? $41,200.

The institute calls Connecticut the worst of the "sinkhole states," with just $10 billion in assets to meet its obligations. New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, and Kentucky fill out that list. 

Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, Utah, and South Dakota make the institute's list of "sunshine states," with enough assets to meet their long-term obligations.