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, New York has the seventh least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
On state and local government employment, New York has 17.14 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector which is 2.2 percent above the national average of 16.77 and is the 28th highest ratio in the country.
Additionally, on state and local government compensation, New York ranks very poorly with government employees earning 22.8 percent more than those in the private sector which is 95 percent higher than the national average of 11.7 percent and is the 7th highest compensation ratio in the country.
On state and local wages and salaries, New York’s employees earn -14.7 percent less than those in the private sector—the 40th highest wages and salaries ratio in the country and significantly lower than the national average of -8.8 percent.
However, on state and local benefits, New York’s employees earn a whopping 229.1 percent more than those in the private sector which is 99 percent higher than the national average of 115 percent and is the 2nd highest benefit ratio in the country. Clearly, benefits are driving New York’s high government compensation ratio.
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.