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, North Carolina has the twentieth most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, North Carolina ranks above the national average with 19.1 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector--this is 16 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 13th highest ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, North Carolina ranks below average with government employees earning 7 percent more than those in the private sector—this is -44 percent below the national average of 13 percent and is the 19th lowest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, North Carolina employees earn -8 percent less than those in the private sector—this is the 21st lowest wages and salaries ratio in the country and right at than the national average.
As shown in Chart 4, for state and local benefits (pensions, health insurance, etc.), North Carolina employees earn 85 percent more than those in the private sector—this is -27 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 20th 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 North Carolina.
The North Carolina counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Swain County (56.4), Gates County (54.5), and Jackson County (44.1). The North Carolina counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Durham County (5.9), Wake County (7.5), and Guilford County (7.7).
The North Carolina counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Dare County (61 percent), Carteret County (58 percent), and Onslow County (57 percent). The North Carolina counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Durham County (-25 percent), Camden County (-4 percent), and Forsyth County (-4 percent).
Overall, it is North Carolina’s low government compensation 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.