Total public sector employment increased in March 2022 compared with the previous quarter and the previous year; the increase from a year ago is largely because of the ongoing response of the NHS and the Civil Service to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
There were an estimated 5.74 million employees in the public sector for March 2022, which was 21,000 (0.4%) more than for December 2021 and 67,000 (1.2%) more than for March 2021.
Employment in central government was an estimated 3.54 million for March 2022, a rise of 20,000 (0.6%) compared with December 2021 and 70,000 (2.0%) compared with March 2021; the main contributors to this increase were the NHS, the Civil Service and local authority schools becoming academies.
The NHS employed an estimated 1.88 million people in March 2022, an increase of 13,000 (0.7%) compared with December 2021 and an increase of 39,000 (2.1%) compared with March 2021; the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic has driven the increase on the previous year.
There were 511,000 employees in the Civil Service for March 2022, up 4,000 (0.8%) compared with December 2021 and 6,000 (1.2%) more than for March 2021; the Civil Service has continued to increase in employment since June 2016 when the employment was 416,000.
Employment in local government was an estimated 2.01 million, an increase of 3,000 (0.1%) compared with December 2021 and 5,000 (0.3%) compared with March 2021; increases in employment in the police have driven this.
Private sector employment was at an estimated 26.97 million for March 2022, an increase of 156,000 (0.6%) compared with December 2021 and an increase of 466,000 (1.8%) compared with March 2021.
Public sector employment
Dataset | Released 14 June 2022
Quarterly estimates of UK and regional public sector employment made up of central government (including Civil Service), local government, and public corporations. The estimates also include a breakdown by industry.
Public sector employment time series
Dataset | Dataset ID: PSE | Released 14 June 2022
Seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted quarterly data time series of UK public sector employment, containing the latest estimates.
For this month's release, we have revised private sector employment and total employment estimates back to March 2020. Labour Force Survey (LFS) responses have been reweighted for periods from January to March 2020 using updated HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Real Time Information (RTI) data. The non-response bias adjustment, previously implemented for England, Wales and Scotland data, has now also been applied to Northern Ireland data. Our Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators: 2022 article gives more information on the reweighting exercise.
Our Coronavirus and the effects on UK Labour Market statistics article has more information about how labour market sources have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Impact on production of public sector employment estimates
The collection of the data contained in this release was unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic. Comments provided by survey respondents suggested the estimates were partly affected by coronavirus planning and response.
The main source of public sector employment (PSE) data is the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey, which is supplemented by data from external sources. Further information can be found in our PSE Quality and Methodology Information (QMI).
While this bulletin focuses on headcount estimates of PSE, full-time equivalent estimates (based on the number of hours worked divided by the standard full-time hours) are available in our accompanying PSE datasets.
All PSE data time series in this release, with the exception of the regional series, are seasonally adjusted to aid interpretation. Relationships that hold in the unadjusted series do not necessarily hold for the seasonally adjusted series. For example, total PSE equals the total of all public sector industry estimates before seasonal adjustment, but this is not necessarily true after seasonal adjustment.
Reclassifications between the public and private sectors
Comparisons of public and private sector employment over time are complicated by several major reclassifications. This is where bodies employing large numbers of people have moved between the public and private sectors. We produce estimates of public and private sector employment excluding the effects of major reclassifications to help you understand underlying trends in employment. We publish these alongside estimates of total public and private sector employment in Tables 5, 6a and 7a of the PSE datasets.
More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in our Public sector employment QMI.Back to table of contents
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
Telephone: +44 1633 456741