| May 3, 2011

Oklahoma’s Bureaucratic-Overhead Problem Persists

Recently in The Oklahoman, OCPA adjunct scholar Russell Jones, a marketing professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, took aim at the notion that “our economic difficulties would disappear if we hired more government workers.” To do so, Jones pointed out, “we’d have to take money from taxpayers and no new value would be created. No one spends money more efficiently than those who earn it. A taxpayer will buy more value with a dollar he earns than the government will with a dollar it takes from a taxpayer.”

Indeed, Jones said, Oklahoma already ranks 14th among the 50 states in the number of government employees as a percentage of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. “Oklahoma governments have 18,048 more full-time equivalent employees than our population justifies,” he pointed out. “These employees are paid $709,018,036 per year. I fail to see how adding to these numbers would benefit Oklahoma.”

Moreover, according to a news report March 2 in USA Today, Oklahoma’s public employees earn higher average pay and benefits than Oklahoma’s private-sector workers. Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, USA Today reported that average public-sector compensation (including salaries and benefits) in Oklahoma in 2009 was $47,258, which was $1,667 greater than the compensation of Oklahoma’s private-sector workers.

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