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, Oklahoma has the tenth most productive state and local government workforce in the country.
On state and local government employment, Oklahoma ranks significantly above the national average with 22.3 employees for every 100 employees in the private sector which is 33.2 percent above the national average of 16.77 and is the 5th highest ratio in the country.
However, on state and local government compensation, Oklahoma ranks very low with government employees earning -3.5 percent less than those in the private sector—significantly below the national average of 11.7 percent and is the 6th lowest compensation ratio in the country.
Both wages and salaries and benefits contribute to Oklahoma’s low government compensation ratio. On state and local wages and salaries, Oklahoma employees earn -15.5 percent less than those in the private sector—the 8th 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.), Oklahoma employees earn 54.8 percent more than those in the private sector which is a whopping -52.4 percent lower than the national average of 115 percent and is the 7th lowest benefit ratio in the country.
Overall, Oklahoma’s government workforce has a duel personality with a very high employment ratio, but also a very low compensation ratio—thanks to both the low wages and salaries and benefits 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.
Scott has nearly 20 years of experience as a public policy economist. He is the author, co-author and editor of over 180 studies and books. His professional experience also includes positions at the American Conservative Union Foundation, Granite Institute, Federalism In Action, Maine Heritage Policy Center, Tax Foundation, and Heritage Foundation.