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, South Carolina has the seventeenth least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, South Carolina has 19.7 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is 20 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 12th highest ratio in the country.
Additionally, as shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, South Carolina ranks above average with government employees earning 15 percent more than those in the private sector—this is 22 percent higher than the national average of 13 percent and is the 18th highest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, South Carolina’s employees earn 3 percent more than those in the private sector—the 6th highest wages and salaries ratio in the country and significantly higher than the national average of -8 percent.
However, as shown in Chart 4, for state and local benefits, South Carolina’s employees earn 73 percent more than those in the private sector--this is-38 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 13th 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 South Carolina.
The South Carolina counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: McCormick County (39.4), Clarendon County (37.2), and Allendale County (35.3). The South Carolina counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Charleston County (8.5), Richland County (9.1), and Aiken County (10.7).
The South Carolina counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Clarendon County (58 percent), Beaufort County (53 percent), and Horry County (52 percent). The South Carolina counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Fairfield County (-32 percent), Allendale County (-27 percent), and Darlington County (-18 percent).
Overall, it is South Carolina’s high employment ratio and high wages and salaries ratio that are 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.