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, Oregon has the ninth least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Oregon has 16.4 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is right at the national average of 16.4 and is the 30th highest ratio in the country.
However, as shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Oregon ranks very poorly with government employees earning 22 percent more than those in the private sector—this is a whopping 73 percent higher than the national average of 13 percent and is the 8th highest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Oregon’s employees earn 4 percent more than those in the private sector—this is the 4th 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, Oregon’s employees earn 108 percent more than those in the private sector—this is -8 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 18th 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 Oregon.
The Oregon counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Wheeler County (101.8), Jefferson County (52.8), and Harney County (52.4). The Oregon counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Washington County (7.3), Clackamas County (9.6), and Jackson County (9.6).
The Oregon counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Wallowa County (67 percent), Harney County (64 percent), and Coos County (60 percent). The Oregon counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Washington County (-6 percent), Gilliam (3 percent), and Morrow County (13 percent).
Overall, it is Oregon’s very high government compensation, driven by the wages and salaries ratio, that is the primary source of the poor government workforce metric.
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.