There are two major elements to look at when examining a state’s government workforce—the number of employees and the level of their pay. Each element is measured relative to the national average and summed together to obtain an overall measure of workforce productivity. By this metric, Nevada has the least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Nevada ranks really well with 12.5 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—24 percent below the national average of 16.4 and is lowest ratio in the country.
However, as shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Nevada ranks very poorly with government employees earning a whopping 51 percent more than those in the private sector—304 percent higher than the national average of 13 percent and is the highest compensation ratio in the country. The high compensation ratio more than offsets the Nevada’s low employment ratio.
Both wages and salaries and benefits contribute to Nevada’s high government compensation ratio. As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Nevada employees earn 12.percent more than those in the private sector—the 2nd highest wages and salaries ratio in the country and significantly higher than the national average of -8 percent.
As shown in Chart 4, for state and local benefits, Nevada employees earn 273 percent more than those in the private sector—133 percent higher than the national average of 117 percent and is the highest benefit ratio in the country. Though the differential is highest for benefits, wages and salaries weigh more heavily since it constitute 63 percent of total compensation.
While identifying the specific underlying causes of Nevada’s government compensation problem is beyond the scope of this analysis, you can begin by examining the actual compensation of government employees at Transparent Nevada.
Of course, efficiency for local government helps to be measured on a more local scale. As such, we have also calculated the employment and compensations ratios of local government workers for every county in Nevada.
The counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Pershing County (56.5), Mineral County (54.7), and Lincoln County (54.2). The counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Carson City county equivalent (5.7), Eureka County (6.4), and Clark County (8.5).
The counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Carson City county equivalent (73 percent), Clark County (63 percent), and Washoe County (51 percent). The counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Esmeralda County (-45 percent), Eureka County (-39 percent), and Pershing County (-25 percent).
Overall, it is Nevada’s very high state and local compensation ratio, driven by both high wages and salaries and benefits, that is the primary source of the poor government workforce metrics.
J. Scott Moody has nearly 20 years experience as a public policy economist with a specialty in tax policy and has over 180 publications. He has worked for numerous national and state-based think tanks such as the American Conservative Union Foundation, Federalism In Action, Tax Foundation, Heritage Foundation, and The Maine Heritage Policy Center.