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, Pennsylvania has the fourteenth least productive state and local government workforce in the country.
On state and local government employment, Pennsylvania has 12.75 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector which is -24 percent below the national average of 16.77 and is the lowest ratio in the country.
However, on state and local government compensation, Pennsylvania ranks poorly with government employees earning 21 percent more than those in the private sector which is a whopping 79.5 percent higher than the national average of 11.7 percent and is the 9th highest compensation ratio in the country.
On state and local wages and salaries, Pennsylvania’s employees earn -7.5 percent less than those in the private sector—the 26th highest wages and salaries ratio in the country and higher than the national average of -8.8 percent.
On state and local benefits (pensions, health insurance, etc.), Pennsylvania’s employees earn 150.5 percent more than those in the private sector which is 30.8 percent higher than the national average of 115 percent and is the 4th highest benefit ratio in the country.
Overall, despite having the best government employment rate in the country, it is Pennsylvania’s very high government compensation ratio, driven by a very high benefits ratio, which is the primary source of the poor government workforce metrics.
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.