TARGET 8 fact checks state employment claims in state of state address

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COLUMBIA — In the state of the state address, Gov. Eric Greitens said he would support government employees, but he also blamed the oversupply of government workers for Missouri’s low rank in state employee pay. “Our best state employees are being hurt by a big bloated bureaucracy,” he said.

To prove his point, Greitens claimed Missouri had approximately double the number of state employees per 10,000 citizens compared to other states, naming Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio in his speech. He concluded, “Because of this, we are 50th out of 50 in state employee pay.”

KOMU 8’s TARGET 8 fact checked the state government employment statistics Greitens referred to in his address.

FACT CHECK: STATE EMPLOYMENT STATISTICS 

“In Indiana, they have 46 state employees for every 10,000 people.”

“In Illinois, they have 47 state employees for every 10,000 people.”

“In Ohio, they have 55 [state employees for every 10,000 people].”

“In Missouri? We have 92 employees for every 10,000 people.”

TARGET 8 deemed these statements TRUE.

An examination of state employment, calculated using 2014 U.S. Census Bureau data, yielded nearly the same numbers. (Due to its large size, education employment was excluded from all state statistics in the comparison).

  • Indiana had 46 full time equivalent (FTE) state employees per 10,000 residents. Greitens said 46.
  • Illinois had 49 state FTEs per 10,000 residents. Greitens said 47.
  • Ohio had 55 state FTEs per 10,000 residents. Greitens said 55.
  • Missouri had 92 state FTEs per 10,000 residents. Greitens said 92.

 

 

 

TARGET 8 also calculated an estimate of Missouri state employees in 2017, using the government's MapYourTaxes website and the 2016 U.S. Census population estimate. We found that so far in 2017, Missouri has approximately 94.3 state employees per 10,000 residents.

State government employees alone do not show full picture

Not including local government employees makes it difficult to accurately compare employment between states. How state governments divide up responsibilities with their localities is not a uniform procedure. 

Some other states do things differently, allowing for more varied forms of local government.

For example, townships are a type of subcounty general-purpose government similar to municipalities. They are only present in 20 of the 50 states. As of 2012, Missouri had a total of 312 townships, while Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio counted more 1,000 townships in each of their respective local government systems.

Including local governments yields less dramatic outcome

An analysis of state and local FTEs in 2014 yielded a different comparison.

  • Indiana had 200 state and local FTEs per 10,000 residents.
  • Illinois had 205 state and local FTEs per 10,000 residents.
  • Ohio had 226 state and local FTEs per 10,000 residents.
  • Missouri had 240 state and local FTEs per 10,000 residents.

 

 

 

So looking at state employees, the governors speech pointed out:

  • Missouri had 100 percent more government employees than Indiana.
  • Missouri had 96 percent more government employees than Illinois.
  • Missouri had 67 percent more government employees than Ohio.

However, by taking state and local full-time equivalents into account, the numbers showed:

  • Missouri had 20 percent more government employees than Indiana per 10,000 people.
  • Missouri had 17 percent more government employees than Illinois per 10,000 people.
  • Missouri has 6 percent more government employees than Ohio per 10,000 people.

 

Breaking down local government numbers

The most recently published Census of Governments from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that as of June 30, 2012:

  • Indiana ranked thirteenth among the states in number of local governments with 2,709 active.
  • Illinois ranked first among the states in number of local governments with 6,963 active.
  • Ohio ranked fifth among the states in number of local governments with 3,842 active.
  • Missouri ranked seventh among the states in number of local governments with 3,768 active.

In theory, higher-ranked states could have shifted more services to city or county governments, in which case those localities would not be counted in the state total – even though taxpayer costs pay for local government salaries and services.

FACT CHECK: MISSOURI'S RANKING IN STATE EMPLOYEE PAY

"We are 50th out of the 50 state in what we pay our state employees."

This statement is TRUE. 

In 2016, the State of Missouri hired CBIZ Human Capital Services (CBIZ) for $300,000 to conduct an in-depth compensation study for its employees, which reviewed and updated government worker compensation plans and analyzed work benefits.

The study did report in its findings, “Missouri ranks last among the 50 states in average employment pay.”

Specifically in regards to Missouri’s last-place ranking in employment pay, the CBIZ study, “strongly cautions against basing decisions on this comparison” and instead called for state officials to focus on “broader market data comparisons.”

In addition, CBIZ looked at the role geography played; different counties reported different salary ranges, which could inaccurately depict employment pay rankings.

The study stated, “Pay levels in different areas of the State vary dramatically. Current prohibitions on geographic differentials may result in over- or under-compensation in different locations. The State should remove this restriction.”

Greitens on state employment moving forward

In the state of the state address, Greitens pledged to improve Missouri's low employment ranking. To do that, he said, “We need to reward the greatest in government service with better pay.”

However, Greitens did not include pay raises for state employees in his $27.6 billion state budget proposal, which he announced on Thursday.  The governor's Press Secretary Parken Briden confirmed this. 

Briden also confirmed to TARGET 8 that Greitens sourced his state employment comparisons from the U.S. Census Bureau 2014 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll, and his Missouri employment pay rankings from the 2016 CBIZ study.

In regards to the governor’s state of the state commitment to smaller government, TARGET 8 asked Briden to clarify if Greitens wants fewer government employees, or the same number of employees focusing on fewer services. Briden responded, “He wants a leaner, more efficient state government.”

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