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Public sector jobs down after Royal Mail privatisation

The number of public sector employees fell to 5.51 million in December 2013, down 159,000 from September 2013, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed.

According to the Labour Market Statistics - March 2014 report, the December figures, which were down 203,000 from a year earlier, had been affected by the reclassification of Royal Mail plc – which was privatised on October 15 2013.

According to the ONS classification system, of the 5.51 million people working in the public sector, 1.57 million work in the NHS, 1.52 million are in education, 1.07 million are in public admin, HM Forces and the police employ 425,000 and there are 928,000 ‘other’ employees.

NHS employee numbers were up 13,000 on September 2013, and the education figures rose by 8,000; the number of employees in public admin, however, fell by 11,000 and HM Forces and police saw numbers fall by 7,000.

In contrast to the fall in public sector positions, there were 24.68 million people employed in the private sector for December 2013, up 264,000 from September 2013 and up 662,000 from a year earlier.

These large increases in private sector employment were partly due to the reclassification of Royal Mail plc. Excluding the effects of this reclassification, private sector employment increased by 118,000 on the quarter and by 473,000 on the year.

Esther McVey, employment minister, said: “We now have the highest employment rate for five years, which shows that the growing economy is helping record numbers of people to find a job, turn their lives around and have the security of a regular wage.”

Ian Brinkley, chief economist at The Work Foundation, said the figures suggest forecasts that unemployment will fall towards 6% by the end of 2015 are “entirely plausible”.

He said: “It is all the more important that the 2014 Budget sets out effective measures to ensure that disadvantaged groups, such as less qualified young people, can also take advantage of these new opportunities. And the challenge remains to translate growth into improved productivity and higher pay alongside more jobs.”

(Image: Royal Mail)

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