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, Minnesota has the seventh most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Minnesota ranks below the national average with 15.2 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is -7 percent below the national average of 16.4 and is the 11th lowest ratio in the country.
Additionally, as shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Minnesota ranks very low with government employees earning -1 percent less than those in the private sector—this is significantly below the national average of 13 percent and is the 8th lowest compensation ratio in the country.
Both wages and salaries and benefits contribute to Minnesota’s low government compensation ratio. As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Minnesota employees earn -11 percent less than those in the private sector—this is the 34th highest wages and salaries ratio in the country and below than the national average of -8 percent.
As shown in Chart 4, for state and local benefits, Minnesota employees earn 52 percent more than those in the private sector—this is -55 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 6th lowest 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 Minnesota.
The Minnesota counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Mahnomen County (192), Pine County (60.4), and Cass County (58.9). The Minnesota counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Hennepin County (6.7), Olmsted County (6.8), and Blue Earth County (7.6).
The Minnesota counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Norman County (202 percent), Red Lake County (73 percent), and Cook County (41 percent). The Minnesota counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Faribault County (-36 percent), Pennington (-24 percent), and Hennepin County (-10 percent).
Overall, it is both Minnesota’s low state and local employment ratio and compensation ratio that is the 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.