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, West Virginia has the ninth most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
On state and local government employment, West Virginia ranks significantly above the national average with 22 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector which is 31 percent above the national average of 16.77 and is the 6th highest ratio in the country.
However, on state and local government compensation, West Virginia ranks very low with government employees earning -4.3 percent less than those in the private sector—significantly below the national average of 11.7 percent and is the 5th lowest compensation ratio in the country.
Both wages and salaries and benefits contribute to West Virginia’s low government compensation ratio. On state and local wages and salaries, West Virginia employees earn -11.7 percent less than those in the private sector—the 33rd highest 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.), West Virginia employees earn only 25.9 percent more than those in the private sector which is a whopping -78 percent lower than the national average of 115 percent and is THE lowest benefit ratio in the country.
Overall, West Virginia’s government workforce has a duel personality with a very high employment ratio, but also a very low compensation ratio—thanks to the lowest benefits 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 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.