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, Georgia has the fifth most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Georgia ranks just above the national average with 16.6 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is 1 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 28th highest ratio in the country.
However, as shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Georgia ranks very low with government employees earning -3 percent less than those in the private sector—significantly below the national average of 13 percent and is the 44th lowest compensation ratio in the country.
Both wages and salaries and benefits contribute to Georgia’s low government compensation ratio. As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Georgia employees earn -20 percent less than those in the private sector—the 49th highest 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, Georgia employees earn 83 percent more than those in the private sector—this is -29 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 33rd highest benefit ratio in the country.
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 Georgia.
The Georgia counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Long County (177.6), Taliaferro County (174.2), and Calhoun County (117.1). The Georgia counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Fulton County (6.1), Chatham County (8.1), and DeKalb County (8.4).
The Georgia counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Tift County (65 percent), Glynn County (59 percent), and Rabun County (52 percent). The Georgia counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Chattahoochee County (-58 percent), Wilkinson (-31 percent), and Heard County (-30 percent).
Overall, it is Georgia’s very low state and local compensation ratio, driven by the low wages and salaries ratio, that is the primary source of the good government workforce metrics.
J. Scott Moody has over 18 years 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 Federalism In Action, Tax Foundation, Heritage Foundation, and The Maine Heritage Policy Center.