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 York has the sixth least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, New York has 16.9 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is 3 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 27th highest ratio in the country.
Additionally, as shown in Chart 2, for, on state and local government compensation, New York ranks very poorly with government employees earning 25 percent more than those in the private sector—this is 99 percent higher than the national average of 13 percent and is the 5th highest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, New York’s employees earn -13 percent less than those in the private sector—the 39th highest wages and salaries ratio in the country and significantly lower than the national average of -8 percent.
However, as shown in Chart 4, for state and local benefits, New York’s employees earn a whopping 236 percent more than those in the private sector—this is 102 percent higher than the national average of 117 percent and is the 2nd highest benefit ratio in the country. Clearly, benefits are driving New York’s high government compensation ratio.
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 York.
The New York counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Hamilton County (62.3), Lewis County (52.1), and Franklin County (43.7). The New York counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Queens County (2.9), Richmond County (3.1), and Kings County (3.4).
The New York counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Hamilton County (112 percent), Putnam County (109 percent), and Sullivan County (106 percent). The New York counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: New York County (-25 percent), Steuben (13 percent), and Tioga County (14 percent).
Overall, it is New York’s high state and local compensation ratio, driven by the very high benefits ratio, 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.