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, Nevada has the least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
On state and local government employment, Nevada ranks really well with 12.83 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector—23.5 percent below the national average of 16.77 and is the 2nd lowest ratio in the country.
However, on state and local government compensation, Nevada ranks very poorly with government employees earning a whopping 48.7 percent more than those in the private sector—317 percent higher than the national average of 11.7 percent and is the highest compensation ratio in the country. The high compensation ratio more than offsets the Nevada’s low employment ratio.
Both wages and salaries and benefits contribute to Nevada’s high government compensation ratio. On state and local wages and salaries, Nevada employees earn 12.1 percent more than those in the private sector—the 2nd highest wages and salaries ratio in the country and significantly higher than the national average of -8.8 percent.
On state and local benefits, Nevada employees earn 235.4 percent more than those in the private sector—105 percent higher than the national average of 115 percent and is the highest benefit ratio in the country. Though the differential is highest for benefits, wages and salaries weigh more heavily since it constitute 63 percent of total compensation.
While identifying the specific underlying causes of Nevada’s government compensation problem is beyond the scope of this analysis, you can begin by examining the actual compensation of government employees at Transparent Nevada.
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 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.