Latest Public Sector News

20.04.15

‘Worrying trend’ as public sector employment reaches lowest level

With increased pressure on public services it is a “worrying trend” that overall employment in the sector has reached its lowest level since 1999, the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has said.

The latest UK Labour Market statistics from the ONS highlighted that as of December 2014 there were 5.4 million people employed in the public sector. This was 6,000 fewer than for September 2014 and the lowest figure since comparable records began in 1999.

Between December 2013 and December 2014, the number of people employed in the public sector fell by 140,000 but the number of people employed in the private sector increased by 757,000.

ONS states that these annual movements in public and private sector employment were partly due to the reclassification of Lloyds Banking Group plc, which moved from the public sector to the private sector in March 2014.

However, excluding the effects of this reclassification, public sector employment fell by 42,000 and private sector employment increased by 659,000 during the 12 month period.

In total, the ONS figures revealed that there were 31.05 million people in work, 248,000 more than for September to November 2014 and 557,000 more than for a year earlier. Additionally, the employment rate for people aged from 16 to 64 in work was 73.4%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.

Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, said: “It is heartening to see that employment is continuing to rise and at 73.4% is the highest since comparable records began – and higher than the pre-downturn peak in early 2008. This mirrors our own findings which saw a 25% rise in professional level vacancies year on year – although there was a slight cooling month on month mainly due to election uncertainty.

“However, the latest ONS figure also point to a 6,000 quarter-on-quarter decrease in staff employed by the public sector – the lowest figure since comparable records began in 1999 – with the increased pressure on our public services this is a worrying trend.”

The ONS figures also revealed that total pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 1.7%, lower than the growth rate between the three months to January 2014 and the three months to January 2015 (1.9%).

Looking to the future, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the country needs a government that builds a far more stable foundation for decent wage growth than it has had in the last five years.

“This should include a much higher minimum wage and stronger rights for people with zero-hours contracts,” she said.

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