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, West Virginia has the eleventh most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, West Virginia ranks significantly above the national average with 21.4 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector which is 31 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 6th highest ratio in the country.
However, As shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, West Virginia ranks very low with government employee earnings on par with those in the private sector—this is significantly below the national average of 13 percent and is the 10th lowest compensation ratio in the country.
Both wages and salaries and benefits contribute to West Virginia’s low government compensation ratio. As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, West Virginia employees earn -9 percent less than those in the private sector—this is the 31st highest wages and salaries ratio in the country and below than the national average of -8 percent.
As shown in Chart 4, for state and local benefits (pensions, health insurance, etc.), West Virginia employees earn 34 percent more than those in the private sector—this is a whopping -71 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is 2nd 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 West Virginia.
The West Virginia counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Wirt County (60.8), Doddridge County (43.8), and Clay County (40.9). The West Virginia counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Cabell County (6.7), Monongalia County (6.7), and Raleigh County (8.7).
The West Virginia counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Wirt County (28 percent), Pocahontas County (26 percent), and Berkeley County (26 percent). The West Virginia counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: McDowell County (-34 percent), Marshall County (-26 percent), and Pleasants County (-26 percent).
Overall, West Virginia’s government workforce has a duel personality with a very high employment ratio, but also a very low compensation ratio—thanks to the 2nd lowest benefits ratio in the country.
Scott has nearly 20 years of experience as a public policy economist. He is the author, co-author and editor of over 180 studies and books. His professional experience also includes positions at the American Conservative Union Foundation, Granite Institute, Federalism In Action, Maine Heritage Policy Center, Tax Foundation, and Heritage Foundation.