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, Nebraska has the twenty-second least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
As shown in Chart 1, for state and local government employment, Nebraska has 17.7 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—this is 8 percent above the national average of 16.4 and is the 21st highest ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 2, for state and local government compensation, Nebraska’s government employees earn 13 percent more than those in the private sector—this is 5 percent higher than the national average of 13 percent and is the 23rd highest compensation ratio in the country.
As shown in Chart 3, for state and local wages and salaries, Nebraska’s government employees earn 1 percent less than those in the private sector—this is the 11th 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.), Nebraska’s employees earn 71 percent more than those in the private sector—this is -39 percent lower than the national average of 117 percent and is the 12th 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 Nebraska.
The Nebraska counties with the highest local government employment ratios include: Loup County (261.2), Sioux County (111.1), and Thurston County (102). The Nebraska counties with the lowest local government employment ratios include: Douglas County (8.7), Dakota County (9.1), and Lancaster County (9.5).
The Nebraska counties with the highest local government compensation ratios include: Nemaha County (411 percent), Cherry County (65 percent), and Washington County (59 percent). The Nebraska counties with the lowest local government compensation ratios include: Stanton County (-35 percent), Clay County (-29 percent), and Cheyenne County (-29 percent).
Overall, Nebraska’s state and local government workforce is a battle of extremes. On the one hand, Nebraska’s wages and salaries ratio is the 11th highest in the country, but is offset by having the 12th lowest benefits ratio. As a result, this puts Nebraska in the middle-of-the-pack nationally.
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.