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, Montana has the eleventh least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Montana has 20.1 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is 22 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 8th highest ratio in the country.
Additionally, as shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Montana also ranks poorly with government employees earning 17 percent more than those in the private sector—this is 35 percent higher than the national average of 13 percent and is the 17th highest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Montana’s employees earnings are on par with those in the private sector—this is the 13th 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 (pensions, health insurance, etc.), Montana’s employees earn 95 percent more than those in the private sector—this is -19 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 26th 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 Montana.
The Montana counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Petroleum County (102.8), Carter County (102.3), and Prairie County (86.2). The Montana counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Yellowstone County (7.1), Gallatin County (7.1), and Missoula County (7.5).
The Montana counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Liberty County (182 percent), Blaine County (53 percent), and Powell County (41 percent). The Montana counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Carter County (-52 percent), McCone County (-42 percent), and Stillwater County (-39 percent).
Overall, it is Montana’s high government employment ratio and wages and salaries ratio that are the primary source of the poor government workforce metric.
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.