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, Arkansas has the thirteenth most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Arkansas ranks above the national average with 19.9 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is 21 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 11th highest ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Arkansas ranks below average with government employees earning 2 percent more than those in the private sector—this is below the national average of 13 percent and is the 11th lowest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Arkansas employees earn -7 percent less than those in the private sector—this is the 25th highest wages and salaries ratio in the country and above than the national average of -8 percent.
As shown in Chart 4, for state and local benefits (pensions, health insurance, etc.), Arkansas employees earn 43 percent more than those in the private sector—this is -63 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 4th 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 Arkansas.
The Arkansas counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Newton County (52.6), Cleveland County (40.2), and Montgomery County (39.2). The Arkansas counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Sebastian County (7.2), Pulaski County (7.5), and Benton County (7.9).
The Arkansas counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Garland County (36 percent), Saline County (31 percent), and Stone County (30 percent). The Arkansas counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Calhoun County (-47 percent), Little River County (-29 percent), and Union County (-25 percent).
Overall, it is Arkansas’s low government compensation ratio, especially having the 4th lowest benefits ratio, which is the primary source of the good government workforce metric. This offsets Arkansas’s high government employment ratio which is the 11th highest in the country.
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.