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, South Dakota has the twenty-second most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
On state and local government employment, South Dakota has 18.69 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector which is 11.4 percent above the national average of 16.77 and is the 16th highest ratio in the country.
On state and local government compensation, South Dakota government employees earn 7.2 percent more than those in the private sector—below the national average of 11.7 percent and is the 30th highest compensation ratio in the country.
On state and local wages and salaries, South Dakota employees earn -12.3 percent less than those in the private sector—the 16th lowest wages and salaries ratio in the country and below than the national average of -8.8 percent.
On state and local benefits (pensions, health insurance, etc.), South Dakota employees earn 99 percent more than those in the private sector which is -13.9 percent lower than the national average of 115 percent and is the 21st highest benefit ratio in the country.
Overall, South Dakota’s state and local government workforce metrics are better than average due to having the 16th lowest wages and salaries ratio in the country.
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.