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, Delaware has the fifteenth least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Delaware ranks just below the national average with 16.2 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is -1 percent below the national average of 16.4 and is the 17th lowest ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Delaware ranks above average with government employees earning 19 percent more than those in the private sector—this is 47 percent higher than the national average of 13 percent and is the 15th highest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Delaware employees earn -6 percent less than those in the private sector—this is the 22nd 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.), Delaware employees earn 149 percent more than those in the private sector—this is 28 percent higher than the national average of 117 percent and is the 4th 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 Delaware.
Delaware, being a small state, only has 3 counties. Here is how each county ranks on the local government employment ratio: Kent County (9.5), Sussex County (8.4), and New Castle County (5.9). Here is how each county ranks on the local government compensation ratio: Kent County (107 percent), Sussex County (84 percent), and New Castle County (10 percent).
Overall, it is Delaware’s high government compensation ratio, especially having the 4th highest benefits 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.