Politician Salaries in the United States

Here's Every Politician's Salary From the State House to White House

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Here's how much everyone from your city mayor to the president of the United States earns. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The salary of a politician ranges from zero to six figures in the United States, with those serving at the local levels earning the least and those elected to state and federal offices earning the most. If you're thinking about running for public officemaybe Congress, you'll want to know what your paycheck will look like.

The answer depends, of course, on the job. Elected positions on your town council may come with a small stipend but are mostly unpaid volunteer jobs.

Most county-level elected positions come with pay with which you can make a living. But it's really when you get to the state and federal levels where politicians' salaries really start to rise.

So how large are politicians' salaries in the United States? Here's a look.

President of the United States

The president of the United States is paid $400,000 a year for his service as the nation's commander-in-chief. Congress has given the president a raise exactly five times since President George Washington took office in 1789.

The vice president gets paid $231,900.

Members of Congress

Members of U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate earn a base salary of $174,000 a year. Some people think that's way too much given the relatively few days debating legislation there are every year, and some people think that's too little given amount of work outside the House and Senate floors they actually do.

Governors

Governors are paid between $70,000 and more than $190,000 for their work as their state's top executive, according to the Book of the States, which is published by The Council of State Governments and shared with the media.

The lowest paid governor is Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who earns the $70,000 salary.

The second-lowest paid governor is Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who earns $90,000 per year. The highest paid governor in the United States is Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, who makes $190,823. The second-highest paid governor is Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who makes $187,500 per year, although Haslam returns his salary to the state.

In addition to Haslam, the governors of Alabama, Florida and Illinois do not accept a paycheck or return all or nearly all of their salaries to the state.

State Legislators

The pay for state legislators varies widely and depends on whether they work for one of the 10 full-time legislatures or the remaining part-time legislatures.

Full-time elected lawmakers at the state level make an average of $81,079, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The average compensation for part-time legislators, by comparison, is $19,197.

If you get elected to California's legislature, you'll be making more than your colleagues in any other state; Its $91,000 base salary for lawmakers is the highest in the nation.

If you get elected to New Hampshire's part-time legislature, you'd better have another job lined up; elected lawmakers there get paid $200 per two-year term, according to research conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

County Level Politicians

Like state legislators, county commissioners and executives are paid varied sums depending on the population they represent and other factors. The average pay for a county executive-level position is nearly $200,000, according to the website SalaryExpert.com. 

The top elected officials in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta and Manhattan each earn more than $200,000 a year, according to SalaryExpert.com. In Rockford, Ill., the pay is about $150,000.

In lesser populated regions of the country, county commissioners are paid less than $100,000 a year, and in many cases their paychecks are about the same as what state legislators are paid in their states. 

Local Elected Officials 

If you're the mayor of a big city such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco or Houston, you're doing just fine, thank you very much.

The mayors of those cities are paid more than $200,000. (San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee is paid $289,000 a year, topping that list.)

If you're the mayor of a mid-size city, you're probably bringing home far less than that, under $100,000. If your city or township is really, really small the mayor and his elected council members may only get stipends or be unpaid volunteers. There is some irony in this, given that the decisions made by your local elected officials often have greater, or at least more immediate and visible impact, on your daily life.

In some states, unpaid members of local government boards and commissions can receive health care at taxpayer expense - a perk that is worth tens of thousands of dollars in some cases.

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Murse, Tom. "Politician Salaries in the United States." ThoughtCo, Mar. 25, 2017, thoughtco.com/how-much-do-politicians-earn-3367616. Murse, Tom. (2017, March 25). Politician Salaries in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-much-do-politicians-earn-3367616 Murse, Tom. "Politician Salaries in the United States." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-much-do-politicians-earn-3367616 (accessed December 12, 2017).