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, California has the fourth least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
On state and local government employment, California has 16.71 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—0.4 percent below the national average of 16.77 and is the 32nd highest ratio in the country.
Additionally, on state and local government compensation, California ranks very poorly with government employees earning 28.9 percent more than those in the private sector—147 percent higher than the national average of 11.7 percent and is the 3rd highest compensation ratio in the country. The high compensation ratio more than offsets California’s lower than average employment ratio.
On state and local wages and salaries, California’s employees earn -2.5 percent less than those in the private sector—the 14th highest wages and salaries ratio in the country and higher than the national average of -8.8 percent.
On state and local benefits, California employees earn 195.6 percent more than those in the private sector—a whooping 70 percent higher than the national average of 115 percent and is the 3rd highest benefit ratio in the country. Though the differential is highest for benefits, wages and salaries weigh more heavily since it constitutes 64 percent of total compensation.
Note: Recent data updates include significant definitional changes, especially to benefits which are now based on an accrual basis as opposed to a cash-basis. The changes currently go back to 2000 so comparisons between pre- and post-2000 data must be used with caution.
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.