Public sector employment, UK: September 2022

Estimates of people employed in the public and private sectors in the UK.

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Release date:
13 December 2022

Next release:
14 March 2023

1. Main points

  • Total public sector employment increased in September 2022 compared with the previous quarter and the previous year; the increase from a year ago is partly because of the response of the NHS and the Civil Service to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

  • There were an estimated 5.77 million employees in the public sector in September 2022, which was 28,000 (0.5%) more than in June 2022 and 73,000 (1.3%) more than in September 2021.

  • Employment in central government was an estimated 3.57 million for September 2022, a rise of 22,000 (0.6%) compared with June 2022, and 74,000 (2.1%) compared with September 2021; the main contributors to this increase were the NHS, the Civil Service, and local authority schools becoming academies.

  • The NHS employed an estimated 1.90 million people in September 2022, an increase of 12,000 (0.6%) compared with June 2022 and an increase of 47,000 (2.5%) compared with September 2021; the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic has driven the increase on the previous year.

  • Employment in local government was an estimated 2.00 million for September 2022, an increase of 3,000 (0.2%) since June 2022, but a decrease of 3,000 (0.1%) since September 2021.

  • There were 513,000 employees in the Civil Service in September 2022, up 1,000 (0.2%) compared with June 2022, and up 8,000 (1.6%) compared with September 2021.

  • Private sector employment was at an estimated 27.00 million for September 2022, slightly lower than for June 2022 by 1,000 (0.0%), but higher than for September 2021 by 117,000 (0.4%).

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2. Public sector employment data

Public sector employment
Dataset | Released 13 December 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 13 December 2022
Seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted quarterly time series of UK public sector employment, containing the latest estimates.

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3. Measuring the data


For this month's release, revisions have been made to the public sector employment estimates back to the start of the quarterly data time series in 1999. We also reviewed the seasonal adjustment process for the public sector employment data series.

Reclassification of further education institutions in England

On 29 November 2022, we announced the reclassification of further education corporations, sixth form college corporations, and designated institutions in England from the non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) sector to the central government sector. Our Economic statistics sector classification – classification update and forward work plan: November 2022 article has more information on this classification decision.

This reclassification is not yet reflected in the latest public sector employment statistics but will be implemented in due course and announced three months before implementation.


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.

View our Comparison of labour market data sources and the main differences article.

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).

Full-time equivalents

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.

Seasonal adjustment

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.

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5. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), published 13 December 2022, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Public sector employment, UK: September 2022

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Neil Hedges
Telephone: +44 1633 456741