State government has added 6,100 employees since Christine Gregoire was elected governor in 2004.

The governor’s budget office projects that by next year, state government will have added more than 6,100 employees since Gregoire was elected in 2004.

That’s an increase of nearly 6 percent. By comparison, after Gary Locke was elected governor in 1996, the state hired more than 8,400 employees during his first term — a 9 percent increase.

Gregoire’s budget office says some of the increase is due to demand for government services from a growing population. The state estimates the population will have grown about 7 percent during Gregoire’s four-year term.

More than 1,200 employees were hired to staff a new prison in Connell, Franklin County, and to expand capacity at the state’s other prisons. And more than 1,100 workers were added in education, mostly faculty and staff to handle more than 18,000 new enrollment slots in the state’s colleges.

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The state is expected to have a work force of nearly 113,000 by the end of the 2007-09 biennium.