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, Texas has the third most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Texas ranks as just above average with 16.5 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is 1 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 29th highest ratio in the country.
However, as shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Texas ranks very low with government employees earning -5 percent less than those in the private sector—significantly below the national average of 13 percent and is the 4th lowest compensation ratio in the country.
Both wages and salaries and benefits contribute to Texas’s low government compensation ratio. As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Texas employees earn -17 percent less than those in the private sector—the 5th lowest 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, Texas employees earn 66 percent more than those in the private sector— this is -43 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 10th lowest benefit ratio in the country. Though the differential is highest for benefits, wages and salaries weigh more heavily since it constitute 74 percent of total compensation.
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 Texas.
The Texas counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Kent County (174.8), Loving County (120.6), and King County (118.9). The Texas counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Randall County (7.1), Dallam County (8), and Dallas County (8.5).
The Texas counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Borden County (102 percent), Starr County (67 percent), and Jeff Davis County (59 percent). The Texas counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: King County (-73 percent), Carson (-53 percent), and Glasscock County (-52 percent).
Overall, it is Texas’s very low state and local compensation ratio, driven by both the low wages and salaries ratio and benefits 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.