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, Kansas has the fourth most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Kansas ranks well above the national average with 20.5 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—25 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 7th highest ratio in the country.
However, as shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Kansas ranks very low with government employees earning -9 percent less than those in the private sector—significantly below the national average of 13 percent and is the 2nd lowest compensation ratio in the country. The low compensation ratio more than offsets the Kansas’s above average employment ratio.
Both wages and salaries and benefits contribute to Kansas’s low government compensation ratio. As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Kansas employees earn -20 percent less than those in the private sector—the 3rd lowest wages and salaries ratio in the country and significantly below than the national average of -8 percent.
As shown in Chart 4, for state and local benefits, Kansas employees earn 43 percent more than those in the private sector—63 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 3rd lowest benefit ratio in the country. Though the differential is highest for benefits, wages and salaries weigh more heavily since it constitute 73 percent of total compensation.
While identifying the specific underlying causes of Kansas’s government employment and compensation problem is beyond the scope of this analysis, you can begin by examining the actual compensation of government employees at Kansas Open Gov.
Of course, efficiency for local government is more usefully 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 Kansas.
The Kansas counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Clark County (146.2), Kearny County (131.2), and Logan County (111.7). The counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Johnson County (8.8), Sedgwick County (9.2), and Ellis County (11.1).
The Kansas counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Jackson County (28 percent), Labette County (21 percent), and Lyon County (20 percent). The counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Coffey County (-48 percent), Linn County (-44 percent), and Marshall County (-38 percent).
Overall, it is Kansas’s very low state and local compensation ratio, driven by both the low wages and salaries ratio and benefits ratio, that is the primary source of the good 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.