Public sector jobs likely to fall further in 2013

11 Dec 12
The outlook for public sector jobs has deteriorated significantly, a major survey of employers has revealed.
By Vivienne Russell | 11 December 2012

The outlook for public sector jobs has deteriorated significantly, a major survey of employers has revealed.

According to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, published today, the forecast for the public sector is –3% for the first quarter of 2013, down from 0% for the previous two quarters.

More than 2,000 employers across all sectors of the economy responded to the survey. They were asked whether they intended to increase or reduce the size of their workforce, expressing the result as a positive or negative percentage.

Overall, the national net employment outlook was +6%, suggesting that the jobs market was looking twice as good as it was in the previous quarter when the outlook was +3%.

Commenting on the public sector figures, Nick Heckscher, sector director for government at the Manpower Group, said the number of workers employed by the government was ‘almost certainly reducing’.

He added: ‘This is the new reality in the public sector. While we see a small dip in hiring intentions for Q1 2013, this may be typical seasonal variation within the government, as it nears the end of its financial period. However, new ways of working, and further volatility in public sector employment, as it strives to get the balance right, look likely for the coming year.’

Even with the poor public sector prospects, the overall regional breakdown of results showed a ‘tide of positivity sweeping across parts of the UK’. All regions of England and Wales recorded positive hiring intentions. The only negative score was recorded in Scotland (–1%), while in Northern Ireland the score flatlined at 0%.

In the private sector, the sectors expecting to perform particularly well were retail, wholesale, restaurants and hotels. However, the outlook for construction was particularly weak, recording a negative score of –14%, which Manpower said was ‘troubling’.

Manpower managing director Mark Cahill said: ‘Undoubtedly these are good figures and should bring some much-needed Christmas cheer to the economy, but underlying this is a more complex picture.

‘There has been a seismic shift in the nature of employment, with many of the new roles created being temporary or part-time positions. While workers can expect a lower risk of losing their job, the flipside of this is that there is now a higher risk of having to work reduced hours or seeing a wage cut in real terms.’

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