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, Massachusetts has the eighteenth most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Massachusetts ranks significantly below the national average with 13 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is -21 percent below the national average of 16.4 and is the 3rd lowest ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Massachusetts ranks slightly below average with government employees earning 11 percent more than those in the private sector—this is -12 percent below the national average of 13 percent and is the 25th highest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Massachusetts employees earn -11 percent less than those in the private sector—this is the 16th lowest 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.), Massachusetts employees earn 129 percent more than those in the private sector—this is 10 percent higher than the national average of 117 percent and is the 10th 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 Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Dukes County (22), Franklin County (17.9), and Nantucket County (13.4). The Massachusetts counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Suffolk County (4.7), Middlesex County (7.4), and Norfolk County (8.6).
The Massachusetts counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Barnstable County (64 percent), Bristol County (48 percent), and Hampshire County (46 percent). The Massachusetts counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Middlesex County (-4 percent), Suffolk County (7 percent), and Dukes County (16 percent).
Overall, it is Massachusetts’s very low government employment ratio that is the primary source of the good 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.