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, New Mexico has the fifth least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, New Mexico has 25.8 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is 57 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 2nd highest ratio in the country.
Additionally, as shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, New Mexico ranks very poorly with government employees earning 20 percent more than those in the private sector—this is 57 percent higher than the national average of 13 percent and is the 12th highest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, New Mexico’s employees earn -2 percent less than those in the private sector—the 16th highest wages and salaries ratio in the country and higher than the national average of -8 percent.
As shown in Chart 4, for state and local benefits, New Mexico’s employees earn 136 percent more than those in the private sector—this is 17 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 9th 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 New Mexico.
The New Mexico counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Harding County (128.8), Rio Arriba County (69.9), and Mora County (55.2). The New Mexico counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Los Alamos County (10.2), Eddy County (10.4), and Lea County (11).
The New Mexico counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Roosevelt County (74 percent), Lincoln County (73 percent), and Sierra County (67 percent). The New Mexico counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Los Alamos County (-65 percent), Harding (-36 percent), and Sandoval County (-3 percent).
Overall, it is both New Mexico’s very high employment and compensation ratio (driven by the high benefits ratio) that are the source of the state’s poor 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.