Total UK public sector employment decreased by 7,000 from Q2 2014 to 5.412 million, which is its lowest level, on a headcount basis, since the start of the series in 1999
Total UK public sector employment decreased by 3,000 from Q2 2014 to 4.434 million on a full-time equivalent basis
Employment in UK local government, at 2.334 million, was 18,000 lower than at Q2 2014
Employment in UK central government, at 2.894 million, was 11,000 higher than at Q2 2014
Employment in UK public corporations, at 184,000, was at the same level as Q2 2014
Private sector employment increased by 121,000 compared with Q2 2014, to 25.384 million
Total UK public sector employment was 302,000 lower than at Q3 2013
Total UK private sector employment was 890,000 higher than at Q3 2013
The bulletin focuses on headcount estimates of public sector employment. These are presented by sector classification, industry and region. Full-time equivalent estimates of public sector employment are available in the accompanying reference tables.
Civil Service employment is shown by government department and agency. Employment in Executive Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) has been aggregated by sponsoring department. Reclassifications between the public and private sectors affect the trends and these are also addressed.
As part of this release, revisions have been made to the series back to 1991 in line with the revisions policy for Public Sector Employment (see background note 3).
The main uses of these statistics are in monitoring changes in the number of people employed in the public and private sector in the UK. They are the official measure of UK public sector employment.Back to table of contents
At Q3 2014, total UK public sector employment (PSE) was 5.4 million, 15.0% lower than the peak level seen in Q3 2009.This represents a fall of 7,000 (0.1%) on the previous quarter and 302,000 (5.3%) on the previous year. This annual decrease is mainly explained by the reclassification of Royal Mail plc in Q4 2013 and Lloyds Banking Group in Q1 2014, from the public sector into the private sector.
Without the effects of the major reclassifications, public sector employment fell by 49,000 (0.9%) compared with Q3 2013.
Figure 1 shows that in Q3 2014, total UK PSE is just below the level when the series started in Q1 1999. There has been a downward trend in total UK PSE since its peak in Q3 2009.Back to table of contents
The public sector comprises central government, local government and public corporations as defined for the UK National Accounts.
At Q3 2014, employment in local government fell by 18,000 (0.8%) on the previous quarter and by 87,000 (3.6%) on the previous year. Figure 2 shows the decreasing trend in local government employment since Q2 2010.
At Q3 2014, employment in central government increased by 11,000 (0.4%) on the previous quarter and 44,000 (1.5%) on the previous year. This is due to academy conversions over the period.
Factors affecting employment in local and central government
There is an ongoing shift of employment from local government to central government, as a result of local authority maintained schools converting to academy status. Academies are classified to central government, whereas local authority maintained schools are classified to local government. As a result, whenever a local authority maintained school becomes an academy, its employees move from local government to central government.
In Q3 2014, employment shifted from local government to central government by 15,000 on the quarter and 53,000 on the year, due to academy conversions.
In Q2 2012, the reclassification of English further education colleges resulted in the transfer of employees from the central government to the private sector, with an approximate headcount of 176,000. At the same time the reclassification of English sixth form college corporations resulted in the transfer of employees from local government to the private sector, with an approximate headcount of 20,000.
UK public corporations
At Q3 2014, employment in UK public corporations was unchanged on the previous quarter but fell by 259,000 (58.5%) on the previous year. The Q3 2014 level of employment (184,000) is at its lowest since the start of the series.
At Q3 2014, Civil Service employment was 440,000. This is a fall of 2,000 (0.5%) on the previous quarter and 7,000 (1.6%) on the previous year.
Figure 3 shows the downward trend in Civil Service employment since Q2 2005, when it was at its highest level of 571,000.Back to table of contents
For over two years, the NHS has employed the largest number of public sector workers. At Q3 2014, the NHS accounted for around 29.1% of all public sector employment. At Q3 2014, employment in the NHS increased by 1,000 (0.1%) on the previous quarter and 20,000 (1.3%) on the previous year.
At Q3 2014, employment in public sector education fell by 2,000 (0.1%) on the previous quarter and 1,000 (0.1%) on the previous year.
Prior to Q2 2012, public sector education employed the largest number of public sector workers. Figure 4 shows the significant fall in public sector education in Q2 2012, as a result of the reclassification of English further education colleges and sixth form college corporations into the private sector.
Public administration includes all administrative duties of local and central government.
Employment in public administration fell by 6,000 (0.6%) on the previous quarter and 16,000 (1.5%) on the previous year.
Figure 4 shows the general downward trend in employment in public administration since Q3 2009.
Other public sector
The category 'other public sector' covers all industries that have not been specified elsewhere, for example financial institutions.
At Q3 2014, employment in the category 'other public sector' fell by 3,000 (0.6%) on the previous quarter and by 268,000 (33.3%) on the previous year. This was the largest annual decrease seen in any industry, and is due to the reclassifications of Royal Mail plc and Lloyds Banking Group into the private sector.
Other health and social work
This category covers all health and social work not covered by the NHS.
At Q3 2014, employment in 'other health and social work' fell by 5,000 (1.9%) on the previous quarter and by 22,000 (7.7%) on the previous year.
At Q3 2014, employment in the Police remained the same when compared with Q2 2014. In the year to Q3 2014 employment in the Police fell by 3,000 (1.2%). Employment in the Police has seen a decreasing trend since Q4 2009. This is shown in Figure 5.
At Q3 2014, employment in HM Forces fell by 1,000 (0.6%) on the previous quarter and by 11,000 (6.3%) on the same quarter a year ago. Figure 5 shows the steady fall in employment in HM Forces since Q1 2010.
At Q3 2014, employment in public sector construction remained unchanged on the previous quarter and fell by 1,000 (2.5%) on the previous year.
Figure 5 shows the downward trend in employment in public sector construction, from the beginning of the series in Q1 1999, to Q1 2012. Since then the level has remained relatively stable.Back to table of contents
Private sector employment estimates are derived as the difference between total UK employment estimates sourced from the Labour Force Survey and the public sector employment estimates collected from public sector organisations.
Total employment in the public sector decreased during Q3 2014, with employment in the private sector continuing to rise. Almost 18% of the working population are employed in the public sector.
Total UK public and private sector employment
The number of people employed in the private sector in Q3 2014 is estimated to be 25.384 million and is the highest recorded, since the start of the series. Total UK private sector employment increased by 121,000 (0.5%) compared with Q2 2014. Total UK public sector employment decreased by 7,000 (0.1%) over the same period.
The public and private sector employment series have been affected by a number of major reclassifications, where bodies employing large numbers of people have moved between public and private sectors. Figure 6 shows the series excluding the effect of major reclassifications.
With the effect of major reclassifications removed, total UK private sector employment increased by 637,000 (2.6%) and total UK public sector employment decreased by 49,000 (0.9%), compared with Q3 2013.
Public and private sector employment by region
Seasonally adjusted series are not available when public and private sector employment is split by region. Therefore any differences between quarters in the published regional tables may be due to seasonal effects. Each series begins at Q1 2008.
Public Sector Employment by Region
All of the Q3 2014 regional public sector employment headcount estimates are lower than the corresponding Q3 2013 estimates, as shown in Figure 7.
The South West (39,000; 8.1%), Scotland (39,000; 6.7%) and London (36,000; 4.7%) showed the largest falls in public sector employment in the year to Q3 2014.
Private sector employment by region
In the year to Q3 2014, private sector employment increased in all of the 12 regions except Wales which decreased by 13,000 (1.3%), as seen in Figure 8. The largest increase was in London (211,000; 5.4%), followed by South West (136,000; 6.5%) and North West (120,000; 4.7%).
Proportion of total employment employed by the public sector
Figure 9 shows the proportion of all those in employment employed in the public sector for each UK region at Q3 2014, showing the importance of public sector employment within each region. Northern Ireland (26.5%), Wales (23.6%) and Scotland (20.9%) had the highest proportions of all in employment employed in the public sector.
At Q3 2014, the North East (20.6%) remains the English region with the highest proportion of all in employment employed in the public sector. London (15.0%) had the lowest proportion.Back to table of contents
At Q3 2014, employment in the Civil Service in Great Britain decreased by 1,740 compared with Q2 2014.
The largest falls were in HMRC (1,840) and DWP (1,240) and the largest rise was in the Home Office (700).
These bodies usually deliver a particular public service and are overseen by a board rather than ministers. Employment in Executive NDPBs has been aggregated by sponsoring department.
Between Q2 2014 and Q3 2014, total employment in Executive NDPBs increased by 1,020. The largest increase was shown in the Department for Health (700).Back to table of contents
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