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, Utah has the fifteenth most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Utah ranks above the national average with 17.5 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is 7 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 24th highest ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Utah ranks below average with government employees earning 5 percent more than those in the private sector—this is below the national average of 13 percent and is the 14th lowest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Utah employees earn -14 percent less than those in the private sector—this is the 8th 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.), Utah employees earn 95 percent more than those in the private sector—this is -19 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 27th 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 Utah.
The Utah counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Piute County (105.4), Daggett County (72.1), and San Juan County (38.6). The Utah counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Salt Lake County (7.8), Summit County (10.9), and Utah County (11.1).
The Utah counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Rich County (56 percent), Wasatch County (46 percent), and Garfield County (37 percent). The Utah counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Emery County (-32 percent), Duchesne County (-25 percent), and Uintah County (-19 percent).
Overall, it is Utah’s low government compensation ratio, especially driven by a low wages and salaries ratio, which 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.