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, Pennsylvania has the sixteenth least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Pennsylvania has 12.7 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is -22 percent below the national average of 16.4 and is the 2nd lowest ratio in the country.
However, as shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Pennsylvania ranks poorly with government employees earning 21 percent more than those in the private sector—this is a whopping 73 percent higher than the national average of 13 percent and is the 9th highest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Pennsylvania’s employees earn -6 percent less than those in the private sector—this is the 23rd 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.), Pennsylvania’s employees earn 146 percent more than those in the private sector—this is 25 percent higher than the national average of 117 percent and is the 6th 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 Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Pike County (25), Perry County (23.3), and Sullivan County (16). The Pennsylvania counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Elk County (8), Luzerne County (8.2), and Snyder County (8.4).
The Pennsylvania counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Pike County (105 percent), Snyder County (62 percent), and Wane County (61 percent). The Pennsylvania counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Montour County (-21 percent), Greene County (-14 percent), and Chester County (0.4 percent).
Overall, despite having the 2nd best government employment rate in the country, it is Pennsylvania’s very high government compensation ratio, driven by a very high benefits ratio, that is 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.