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Regional Analysis of Public Sector Employment, 2012 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 06 March 2013 Download PDF

Correction

30 April 2013

A minor error was discovered in the adjustment applied to regional public and private sector employment estimates to remove the impact of the reclassification of Colleges in England. This affected estimates prior to 2010 Q4 of regional public sector employment excluding Further Education Colleges and Sixth Form College Corporations for total regional public sector employment, public sector employment as a proportion of total employment, General Government employment and public sector employment in Education.  The regional private sector employment including colleges was also affected by this error.

ONS has today reissued the affected reference tables and corrected bulletin text commenting on the data.

ONS apologises for any inconvenience caused.  For more information please contact pse@ons.gov.uk

Abstract

Estimates of public sector employment in the UK are published on a quarterly basis in the Public Sector Employment release. The latest available estimates, for September 2012, were published in December 2012. This article provides a more detailed analysis of those public sector employment estimates by region and highlights changes in that employment since 2008. The first section provides comparisons of public sector employment across regions. Separate sections are then provided describing employment in the public sector in each region of England and Wales. Analyses of public sector employment in Scotland and Northern Ireland are available in Public Sector Employment in Scotland and Northern Ireland Labour Market Report. In April 2012 further education and sixth form colleges in England were reclassified from the public sector to the private sector. Data are provided with and without the impact of reclassification for all series affected by the reclassification. Estimates of private sector employment are also provided. The data in this release have not been adjusted for seasonal effects.

Key Points

  • Total public sector employment is estimated to have risen in all regions during 2008 and 2009 before then falling to below 2008 levels by September 2012. When the effect of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, public sector employment in London and the South East was higher in September 2012 than in March 2008.

  • Local government employment has fallen in all regions between March 2008 and September 2012 except in Northern Ireland which had a small increase in local government employment.

  • Central government employment in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland fell over the series to below 2008 levels.

  • Changes in central government employment in England varied between regions. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, employment in central government in September 2012 remained above 2008 levels in all English regions.

  • Private sector employment initially fell in all regions before rising to a similar or slightly higher level than in March 2008 by September 2012 in most regions. In Wales and Scotland private sector employment remained below the March 2008 level. Removing the impact of the reclassification of English colleges reduces the increases in private sector employment in English regions but most still returned to March 2008 levels by September 2012.

Summary

Total public sector employment

Total public sector employment fell in all regions between the start of the series in March 2008 and the latest available data for September 2012. In all regions public sector employment initially rose before falling to a lower level than at the start of the series. The quarter where public sector employment is estimated to have peaked varies by region. Regional public sector employment peaked first, in December 2008, in the West Midlands, South East and Scotland. It peaked last in the East Midlands, in March 2010.

Since its peak public sector employment has fallen in all regions, by between 7% in Wales and Northern Ireland and 15% in the North East. In April 2012 further education and sixth form colleges in England were reclassified from the public sector to the private sector. Excluding the impact of the reclassification, public sector employment fell by between 6% and 12% from the peak in each English region. When the effect of the reclassification is removed, public sector employment in London and the South East was higher in September 2012 than in March 2008.
 
In September 2012 London and the South East contained just under a quarter of the total UK public sector employment between them. In contrast only 17% of the total employment in those regions was classified to the public sector. This is among the lowest proportions for any regions of the UK. Northern Ireland  and the North East contributed less than 5% each to the total UK public sector employment estimate but had among the highest proportions of total employment classified to the public sector.

Figure 1 - Public Sector Employment by Region 2008 - 2012

Non seasonally adjusted

Chart showing total public sector employment by region for the years 2008 to 2012
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Annual figures relate to June quarter (Q2).

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Public sector employment by sector

The public sector is comprised of three sub-sectors – local government, central government and public corporations. Public corporations are companies or quasi-corporations controlled by central or local government. Examples include Royal Mail and the nationalised banks. Changes in employment in these sectors followed different patterns from total public sector employment.

There were large falls in local government employment in most regions of the UK between March 2008 and September 2012. The largest proportional falls were in the North East (24%), East of England (22%) and South West (21%).  Local government employment in Northern Ireland has increased slightly over the period.  The falls in local government employment are likely to be due to reductions in local authority budgets, staff moving off the local authority payroll and schools in England becoming academies. When a school becomes an academy its classification transfers from local government to central government.

Central government employment fell between March 2008 and September 2012 in Northern Ireland (6%), Wales (3%) and Scotland (2%). Changes in central government employment in England varied between regions. However when the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed employment in central government has increased in all English regions compared with March 2008. The largest proportional increases were in the East of England (22%), West Midlands (16%) and East Midlands (15%). These increases are likely to be due to schools in England becoming academies.

Employment in public corporations also increased in most regions of the UK. The largest increases in employment in public corporations between March 2008 and September 2012 were in Scotland (116%), Yorkshire and The Humber (81%), and the West Midlands (41%). This is due to the nationalisation of some financial institutions during 2008.

Public sector employment by industry

Public sector employment can also be grouped into broad industrial categories. These include education, NHS, police and public administration. Public administration includes the administration of central and local government, judicial activities and fire services.

In September 2012, education, NHS and public administration had the highest proportions of public sector employment for all regions. The proportions of employment in these industries varied between regions. A third of public sector employment in the East of England was in education compared with just over a fifth in London. The highest proportion of public sector employment in the NHS was in Northern Ireland (32%) and the lowest in the South West (26%). The region with the highest proportion of public sector employment in public administration was the North East (24%) compared with 16% in the East of England.

Employment in education in all English regions fell between March 2012 and June 2012 due to the reclassification of colleges in England to the private sector.

Private sector employment

Private sector employment showed the opposite pattern to public sector employment. Between March 2008 and March 2010, the quarter where UK private sector employment was at its lowest level, private sector employment fell in all regions. Since March 2010 private sector employment increased in all regions. This pattern is due to initial increases in public sector employment and falls in total employment near the start of the recession, followed by reductions in public sector numbers accompanied by increases in total employment from 2010 onwards. In a similar way to total public sector employment, the quarter in which private sector employment was at its lowest level varied by region. The quarter with the lowest estimate of private sector employment in Northern Ireland was March 2009. In comparison, the quarter with the lowest private sector employment estimate in Yorkshire and The Humber was September 2010.
 
Levels of private sector employment in most regions rose to similar or slightly higher levels than in March 2008 by September 2012. The exceptions to this were Wales and Scotland where private sector employment remained below the March 2008 level. Removing the impact of the reclassification of English colleges reduces the increases in private sector employment in English regions but most still returned to March 2008 levels by September 2012.

Figure 2 - Percentage change in private sector employment by region

Between (i) March 2008 and September 2012 (ii) March 2008 and March 2010 and (iii) March 2010 and September 2012

Chart showing the percentage change in private sector employment in region (i) March 2008 and September 2012 (ii) March 2008 and March 2010 and (iii) March 2010 and September 2012
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Notes for Summary

  1. The proportion of employment classified to the public sector in Northern Ireland may be over estimated. This is because estimates of total employment are based on the region of the workplace reported in the Labour Force Survey, LFS. The UK LFS does not cover people who live in the Republic of Ireland. Therefore people living in the Republic of Ireland but working in the private sector in Northern Ireland will not be included in the estimates.

North East

An estimated 22.2% of people in employment in the North East worked in the public sector in September 2012. This is the highest proportion of the English regions but is lower than the proportion in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

Total public sector employment in the North East rose by around 2% between March 2008 and September 2009 to nearly 300,000 and then fell 15% to just over 250,000 in September 2012. Removing the impact of the reclassification of further education and sixth form colleges in England to the private sector in April 2012, public sector employment in the North East fell by 12% from a peak of just under 290,000.

Local government employment in the North East fell each year between 2008 and 2012 and was 24% lower in September 2012 than in March 2008. This is the largest percentage fall in any region of the UK.

Central government employment decreased between March 2008 and September 2012 by around 2%. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, central government employment increased between 2008 and 2012 by just under 6%. The increase in central government employment is due to schools in the North East becoming academies and thus transferring from local government to central government.

Private sector employment in the North East increased by an estimated 7% between March 2008 and September 2012. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, private sector employment in the North East is estimated to have increased by just over 5% between March 2008 and September 2012.

Figure 3 - Change in Public and Private Sector Employment in the North East Since 2008 Q1

Chart showing public and private sector employment in the North East, including and excluding the impact of the reclassification of colleges in England.
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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North West

An estimated 20.3% of people in employment in the North West worked in the public sector in September 2012. This is the third highest proportion of the English regions and is also lower than the proportion in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

Total public sector employment in the North West rose by around 5% between March 2008 and December 2009 to nearly 735,000 and then fell 12% to just under 645,000 in September 2012. Removing the impact of the reclassification of further education and sixth form colleges in England to the private sector in April 2012, public sector employment in the North West fell by 8% from a peak of just over 700,000 in December 2008.

Local government employment in the North West fell each year between 2008 and 2012 and was 14% lower in September 2012 than in March 2008.

Central government employment decreased between March 2008 and September 2012 by around 5%. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, central government employment increased between 2008 and 2012 by around 4%. The increase in central government employment is due to schools in the North West becoming academies and thus transferring from local government to central government.

Private sector employment in the North West increased by an estimated 3% between March 2008 and September 2012. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, private sector employment in the North West is estimated to have increased by just over 2% between March 2008 and September 2012.

Figure 4 - Change in Public and Private Sector Employment in the North West Since 2008 Q1

Chart showing public and private sector employment in the North West, including and excluding the impact of the reclassification of colleges in England.
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Yorkshire and The Humber

An estimated 20.6% of people in employment in Yorkshire and The Humber worked in the public sector in September 2012. This is the second highest proportion of the English regions and is also lower than the proportion in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

Total public sector employment in Yorkshire and The Humber rose by around 8% between March 2008 and December 2009 to around 575,000 and then fell 12% to 505,000 in September 2012. Removing the impact of the reclassification of further education and sixth form colleges in England to the private sector in April 2012, public sector employment in Yorkshire and The Humber fell by 8% from a peak of just over 550,000.

Local government employment in Yorkshire and The Humber fell between 2008 and 2012 and was 14% lower in September 2012 than in March 2008.

Central government employment decreased between March 2008 and September 2012 by around 3%. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, central government employment increased between 2008 and 2012 by around 6%. The increase in central government employment is due to schools in Yorkshire and The Humber becoming academies and thus transferring from local government to central government.

Employment in public corporations in Yorkshire and The Humber increased by over 80% between March 2008 and September 2012. This is due the nationalisation of some financial institutions during 2008.

Private sector employment in Yorkshire and The Humber increased by an estimated 2.5% between March 2008 and September 2012. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, private sector employment in Yorkshire and The Humber estimated is to have increased by around 1% between March 2008 and September 2012.

Figure 5 - Change in Public and Private Sector Employment in Yorkshire and the Humber Since 2008 Q1

Chart showing public and private sector employment in Yorkshire and the Humber, including and excluding the impact of the reclassification of colleges in England.
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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East Midlands

An estimated 17.7% of people in employment in the East Midlands worked in the public sector in September 2012. This is the fourth lowest proportion of all the regions of the UK.

Total public sector employment in the East Midlands rose by around 5% between March 2008 and March 2010 to just over 405,000 and then fell by 10% to just under 365,000 in September 2012. Removing the impact of the reclassification of further education and sixth form colleges in England to the private sector in April 2012, public sector employment in the East Midlands fell by 6% from a peak of just under 390,000 in March 2010. The East Midlands was the last region of the UK to see a peak in public sector employment.

Local government employment in the East Midlands fell between 2008 and 2012 and was 14% lower in September 2012 than in March 2008.

Central government employment increased between March 2008 and September 2012 by around 4%. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, central government employment increased between 2008 and 2012 by around 15%. The increase in central government employment is due to schools in the East Midlands becoming academies and thus transferring from local government to central government.

Private sector employment in the East Midlands increased by an estimated 4% between March 2008 and September 2012. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, private sector employment in the East Midlands is estimated to have increased by 3% between March 2008 and September 2012.

Figure 6 - Change in Public and Private Sector Employment in the East Midlands Since 2008 Q1

Chart showing public and private sector employment in the East Midlands, including and excluding the impact of the reclassification of colleges in England.
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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West Midlands

An estimated 19.7% of people in employment in the West Midlands worked in the public sector in September 2012. This is similar to the proportion of total UK employment that is employed in the public sector.

Total public sector employment in the West Midlands rose by around 4% between March 2008 and December 2008 to just over 535,000 and then fell by 11% to just under 480,000 by September 2012. Removing the impact of the reclassification of further education and sixth form colleges in England to the private sector in April 2012, public sector employment in the West Midlands fell by 7% from a peak of just over 510,000. The West Midlands was one of the first regions of the UK to see a peak in public sector employment.

Local government employment in the West Midlands fell each year between 2008 and 2012 and was nearly 18% lower in September 2012 than in March 2008.

Central government employment increased between March 2008 and September 2012 by around 3%. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, central government employment increased between 2008 and 2012 by around 16%. The increase in central government employment is due to schools in the West Midlands becoming academies and thus transferring from local government to central government. This is the second largest percentage increase in central government employment in any region of the UK.

Employment in public corporations in the West Midlands increased by just over 40% between March 2008 and September 2012. This is due to the nationalisation of some financial institutions during 2008.

Private sector employment in the West Midlands was at a similar level in September 2012 as it was in March 2008. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, private sector employment in the West Midlands is estimated to have decreased by around 1.5% between March 2008 and September 2012.

Figure 7 - Change in Public and Private Sector Employment in the West Midlands Since 2008 Q1

Chart showing public and private sector employment in the West Midlands, including and excluding the impact of the reclassification of colleges in England.
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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East of England

An estimated 16.7% of people in employment in the East of England worked in the public sector in September 2012. This is the second lowest proportion of all the regions of the UK.

Total public sector employment in the East of England rose by around 4% between March 2008 and December 2009 to just under 480,000 and then fell by 10% to just over 430,000 in September 2012. Removing the impact of the reclassification of further education and sixth form colleges in England to the private sector in April 2012, public sector employment in the East of England fell by 6% from a peak of just under 460,000.

Local government employment in the East of England fell each year between 2008 and 2012 and was nearly 22% lower in September 2012 than in March 2008. This is the second largest percentage fall in any region of the UK.

Central government employment increased between March 2008 and September 2012 by around 11%. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, central government employment increased between 2008 and 2012 by around 22%. The increase in central government employment is due to schools in the East of England becoming academies and thus transferring from local government to central government. This is the largest percentage increase in central government employment in any region of the UK.

Private sector employment in the East of England has increased by an estimated 2.5% between March 2008 and September 2012. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, private sector employment in the East of England is estimated to have increased by around 1.5% between March 2008 and September 2012.

Figure 8 - Change in Public and Private Sector Employment in East of England Since 2008 Q1

Chart showing public and private sector employment in the East of England, including and excluding the impact of the reclassification of colleges in England.
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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London

An estimated 16.9% of people in employment in London worked in the public sector in September 2012. This is the third lowest proportion of the all the regions of the UK. London accounts for around 13% of public sector employment in the UK.

Total public sector employment in London rose by around 11% between March 2008 and December 2009 to around 820,000 and then fell by 10% to just over 740,000 in September 2012. Removing the impact of the reclassification of further education and sixth form colleges in England to the private sector in April 2012, public sector employment in London fell by 7% from a peak of just under 800,000.

Local government employment in London fell between 2008 and 2012 and was nearly 9% lower in September 2012 than in March 2008.

Central government employment increased between March 2008 and September 2012 by around 2%. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, central government employment increased between 2008 and 2012 by nearly 9%. The increase in central government employment is due to schools in London becoming academies and thus transferring from local government to central government.

Private sector employment in London has increased by an estimated 3.7% between March 2008 and September 2012. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, private sector employment in London is estimated to have increased by around 3% between March 2008 and September 2012.

Figure 9 - Change in Public and Private Sector Employment in London Since 2008 Q1

Chart showing public and private sector employment in London, including and excluding the impact of the reclassification of colleges in England
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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South East

An estimated 16.6% of people in employment in the South East worked in the public sector in September 2012. This is the lowest proportion of all the regions of the UK. The South East accounted for around 12% of public sector employment in the UK.

Total public sector employment in the South East rose by around 8% between March 2008 and December 2008 to around 740,000 and then fell by 11% to 660,000 in September 2012. Removing the impact of the reclassification of further education and sixth form colleges in England to the private sector in April 2012, public sector employment in the South East fell by 7% from a peak of just over 705,000. The South East was one of the first regions of the UK to see falls in public sector employment.

Local government employment in the South East increased by around 3% between March 2008 and December 2010 and then fell by 14% between December 2010 and September 2012. Overall, local government employment was 11% lower in September 2012 than in March 2008.

Central government employment increased between March 2008 and September 2012 by around 1%. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, central government employment increased between March 2008 and September 2012 by 10%. The increase in central government employment is due to schools in the South East becoming academies and thus transferring from local government to central government.

Private sector employment in the South East was at a similar level in September 2012 as that in March 2008. The reclassification of English colleges to the private sector increased private sector employment in the South East slightly. However the change in private sector employment between March 2008 and September 2012 is less than 1%.

Figure 10 - Change in Public and Private Sector Employment in the South East Since 2008 Q1

Chart showing public and private sector employment in the South East, including and excluding the impact of the reclassification of colleges in England
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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South West

An estimated 19% of people in employment in the South West worked in the public sector in September 2012. This is similar to the proportion of total UK employment that was employed in the public sector.

Total public sector employment in the South West rose by around 8% between March 2008 and December 2009 to just over 560,000 and then fell by 14% to just over 480,000 in September 2012. Removing the impact of the reclassification of further education and sixth form colleges in England to the private sector in April 2012, public sector employment in the South West fell by 10% from a peak of just under 540,000.

Local government employment in the South West fell from December 2009 onwards and was nearly 21% lower in September 2012 than in March 2008. This is the third largest percentage fall in any region of the UK.

Central government employment increased between March 2008 and September 2012 by less than 1%. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, central government employment in the South West increased between 2008 and 2012 by around 11%. The increase in central government employment is likely to be partially due to schools in the South West becoming academies and thus transferring from local government to central government.

Private sector employment in the South West increased by an estimated 1% between March 2008 and September 2012. When the impact of the reclassification of English colleges is removed, private sector employment in the South West is estimated to be at a similar level in September 2012 as at March 2008.

Figure 11 - Change in Public and Private Sector Employment in the South West Since 2008 Q1

Chart showing public and private sector employment in the South West, including and excluding the impact of the reclassification of colleges in England
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Wales

An estimated 25.7% of people in employment in Wales worked in the public sector in September 2012. This is the second highest proportion in any region of the UK.

Total public sector employment in Wales rose by around 4% between March 2008 and December 2009 to just over 350,000 and then fell by 7% to just over 330,000 in September 2012.

Local government employment in Wales decreased between March 2008 and September 2012 by around 6%

Central government employment in Wales decreased between March 2008 and September 2012 by around 3%

Private sector employment in Wales decreased by an estimated 3% between March 2008 and September 2012. Only Wales and Scotland had decreases in private sector employment greater than 1% between March 2008 and September 2012.

Figure 12 - Change in Public and Private Sector Employment in Wales Since 2008 Q1

Chart showing public and private sector employment in Wales, including and excluding the impact of the reclassification of colleges in England
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Background notes

  1. Basic Quality Information

    In 2005 the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in collaboration with other government departments and the devolved administrations, implemented major improvements to public sector employment (PSE) estimates. Standard definitions for public sector employment across all departmental statistics were agreed and a single definitive set of quarterly PSE estimates introduced. A new Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (QPSES) was established. ONS publishes official PSE estimates each quarter as National Statistics, in the form of a Statistical Bulletin, approximately 11 weeks after the period to which they refer.

    Further details can be found in the Quality and Methodology Information for Public Sector Employment (115.9 Kb Pdf) .

  2. Relevance to Users

    The public sector comprises central government, local government and public corporations as defined for the UK National Accounts. ONS produces the United Kingdom’s National Accounts.

    The National Accounts are an internationally comparable accounting framework that describes the activities in a national economy. The relevant international manuals are the System of National Accounts 1993 (SNA93) and the European System of Accounts 1995 (ESA95). As part of the process of producing the National Accounts, ONS decides on the classification of institutions and transactions within the economy using the current UK classification process.

    The Public Sector Classification Guide (787 Kb Excel sheet) is published monthly by ONS, and provides information on the classification of organisations and institutions in the National Accounts.

    The public sector employment estimates relate to the number of people employed according to returns from relevant organisations, but they include a number of workers with a second job in the public sector whose main job is in the private sector or in a separate public sector organisation.

    The private sector estimate, which is obtained by taking the difference between the Labour Force Survey estimate of people employed in the whole economy and the public sector total, will thus tend to be correspondingly understated by a small percentage. The private sector employment estimates, and proportions of people in employment who work in the public sector, are subject to sampling error. These sampling errors will be of a similar size to the estimates of sampling error for total employment by region. These can be found in  Regional Labour Market: S02 - Sampling Variability and Revisions Summary (41.5 Kb Excel sheet) .

    Estimates of the proportion of employment classified to the public sector in Northern Ireland may be over estimated. This is because estimates of total employment are based on the region of the workplace reported in the Labour Force Survey, LFS. The UK LFS does not cover people who live in the Republic of Ireland. Therefore people living in the Republic of Ireland but working in Northern Ireland will not be included in the estimates.

    Headcount estimates are based on the number of employees with an employment contract who are being paid by the organisation. Employees can be permanent, on a fixed-term contract or employed on a casual basis. Self-employed, contract workers and agency workers are excluded.

  3. Concepts and Definitions

    Central government includes all administrative departments of government and other central agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies, as such it is wider than the Civil Service. This sector also includes HM Forces and the National Health Service (NHS). Within education, academies and free schools are classified to central government. From 1 April 2005, central government includes the former Magistrates' Courts Service which has been brought together with the Court Service to form Her Majesty's Courts Service. The Magistrates' Courts Service was previously classified to local government.

    Local government covers those types of public administration that only cover a locality and any bodies controlled and mainly financed by them. The sub-sector includes all areas of administrative authorities including parish councils, though these units are not covered by the current estimates for local authorities. It includes police forces and their civilian staff. All functions of local authorities are classified to the sub-sector, although trading activities that produce market output (for example, housing and municipally owned markets) are regarded as quasi-corporations and appear under public corporations. Local education authorities are part of local government, as are voluntary aided schools, county schools and, from September 1999, foundation schools (formerly grant-maintained).

    Public corporations are companies or quasi-corporations controlled by government. Examples include Royal Mail and the nationalised banks. These companies receive more than half their income from sales of goods or services into the market place (see background note 8 of the quarterly Public Sector Employment release for details about financial institutions, for example Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland Group, classified to the public sector).
    The estimates of Civil Service employees count all home Civil Service employees (including from 1 April 2005 the employees of the former Magistrates' Courts Service). Civil Service employees can be classified to central government or public corporations. Examples of public corporations include the UK Intellectual Property Office and the Driving Standards Agency. Civil Service estimates exclude the Northern Ireland Civil Service and other Crown servants. Employees in these groups are included in estimates of central government employment.

  4. Accuracy

    Response rates: PSE statistics are compiled from a range of sources. The primary source is the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (QPSES). The QPSES comprises three separate data collections; the home Civil Service, Local Authorities in England and Wales and Great Britain public corporations and Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs). Returned questionnaires go through a series of automated validation tests to check for completeness and consistency and to identify any significant movements compared with the previous period reported (and the same period the previous year). The automated checks are followed up with respondents where errors are detected or further explanation is required. The target is to clear 95% of test failures prior to processing results. ONS targets for response to each of the three surveys ahead of compiling results are 85% (number of respondents) and 90% (of total employment). In addition, each survey has a list of critical respondents (usually those with the largest employment) for which special efforts are made to achieve 100% response and clearance of test failures.

    Response (% of questionnaires returned) Response (% of employment)
    Local Authorities Survey 92 93
    Public Bodies Survey 86 94
    Civil Service Survey 100 100
    Other Sources (see below) 100 100

    Data for non-responders are imputed based on previous returns and known annual changes in seasonality. It is extremely rare for a local authority, public body or Civil Service department to non-respond for two consecutive quarters. The data collection is statutory for local authorities and public bodies (Statistics of Trade Act 1947) and positive action is taken to address non-response issues as and when they occur.

    So that estimates of total public sector employment can be made it is necessary for further information to be gathered from external sources. 

    Geographic Coverage Source
    Central Government    
    HM Forces UK Ministry of Defence: DASA
    National Health Service England Information Centre for Health and Social Care (IC)
     - Wales NHS Wales Informatics Service
     - Scotland Scottish Government
     - Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel
    Academies England Schools Workforce Censusand list of all open academies (Department for Education)
    Other Central Government Great Britain Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (ONS); Probation Service and Police Strength
     - Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel
    Local Government
    Local Authorities England and Wales Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (ONS)
     - Scotland Joint Staffing Watch (Scottish Government)
     - Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel
    Police (including civilians) England and Wales Home Office
     - Scotland Joint Staffing Watch (Scottish Government)
     - Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel
    Public Corporations
     - Great Britain Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (ONS)
     - Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel
  5. Future Revisions

    Statistics for the NHS for England for Q4 2007 onwards are partly based on projections and informed modelled estimates have been supplied by the Information Centre for Health and Social Care. These estimates may be revised following the publication of the annual NHS workforce statistics.
    Statistics for the Police (including civilians) for Q4 2007 onwards for England and Wales are based partly on projections supplied by the Home Office. These estimates may be revised following the publication of the latest Home Office statistics.
    Due to ongoing validation of data from the new HM Forces Personnel Administration System, figures for Q2 2007 onwards are provisional and subject to review.

  6. Coherence

    The estimates of public sector employment in education (SIC division 85) differ from the school workforce estimates published by the Department for Education (DfE) (formerly Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)) mainly as a result of differences in coverage and data sources. DfE estimates focus on the number of teachers and support staff for England only. By comparison, the ONS estimates are derived by allocating local authority employees to education using the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) and the QPSES in England and Wales. The DfE School Workforce Census school level estimates are used to estimate employment in academies in England. PSE estimates include all employees reported by local authorities as working in primary, secondary and adult education establishments including some groups who are not covered by the DfE statistics, such as adult education staff and certain categories of support staff. Employment estimates for education in Scotland and Northern Ireland are also included to give a wider UK coverage. The different coverage of the ONS and DfE education statistics serve the needs of different users. Those who require information on the workforce in England who are directly involved in pupils' teaching and learning should use DfE published statistics. Users should also refer to DfE published statistics to gauge trends in education employment. Those who seek data on UK public sector employment in education, in its widest sense, should use the ONS data in this release. For further information on the differences between DfE and ONS data on education please see pages 44 to 46 of the  Public Sector Employment Trends 2005 (463 Kb Pdf) article published in October 2005.

    ONS estimates for the NHS also differ from the headline figure produced by the Information Centre for Health and Social Care (IC). Again, this reflects the wider UK coverage (IC figures are for England only) plus the exclusion by ONS of general practitioners (GPs). ONS, in accordance with National Accounts practice, classifies GPs as part of the private sector. ONS also include ‘hospital practitioners and clinical assistants’ who work in hospitals on a salaried pay scale but generally work as GPs leading the IC to exclude them from their totals to avoid double counting. When these factors are allowed for, ONS and NHS data can be shown to be identical.

  7. Publications of sources of public sector employment by region

    Scottish Government – Public Sector Employment in Scotland

    Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland Labour Market Report.

    Defence Analytical Services and Advice – Quarterly Location Statistics – UK Regular Armed Forces and Civilian Personnel

    Department for Education – School Workforce Census

    Home Office - Police Service Strength England and Wales

    NHS Information Centre - Monthly NHS Hospital and Community Health Service (HCHS) Workforce Statistics in England

    Office for National Statistics – Civil Service Statistics

  8. Further Education Colleges

    On 13 October 2010, ONS announced the reclassification of further education colleges and sixth form college corporartions to the public sector. ONS, as part of the Q4 2010 publication, took on employment estimates for further education colleges back to 1993 or their inception if later.

    On 31 May 2012, ONS announced the reclassification of English further education colleges and sixth form college corporations to the private sector, as Non-Profit Institutions Serving Households (NPISH), effective from 1 April 2012. As such, employment estimates for English further education colleges and sixth form college corporations are included in ONS estimates of public sector employment from 1993 or their inception if later, up to and including Q1 2012. English further education colleges and English sixth form college corporations employment estimates are not included in public sector employment estimates from Q2 2012 onwards. More information on this decision can be found in the Reclassification of Further Education Corporations and Sixth Form Colleges in England article published on 31 May 2012.

  9. The Census

    The Census is a count of the population in the UK. It takes place every 10 years and asks everyone the same questions to give a complete picture of the nation. This information is used to estimate the likely number of people and households in each area for the next 10 years. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) designs, manages and runs the census in England and Wales. The General Register Office Scotland (GROS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) are responsible for the census in Scotland and Northern Ireland. All three agreed to conduct their 2011 censuses on the same day (27 March 2011) in order to produce consistent and coherent information that covers the whole of the UK. The Census generated approximately 40,000 temporary public sector jobs across the UK, covering a range of part-time and full-time roles.

  10. Statistical contacts

    Emily Carless

    Labour Market Division, Office for National Statistics

    Tel: +44 (0)1633 455717

    Email: pse@ons.gsi.gov.uk

  11. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

    • meet identified user needs;
    • are well explained and readily accessible;
    • are produced according to sound methods; and
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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