UK public sector employment lowest for 19 years, say figures

16 Aug 18

The lowest proportion of people were employed in the UK's public sector in March 2018 since comparable records began 13 years ago, ONS figures have shown.

Of all people in paid work, 16.5% (5.36 million) were employed in the public sector in March this year compared to 83.5% (27.04 million) in the private sector, according to the officials stats out this week.

Although, public sector employment was up 10,000 compared with December 2017 it was down 102,000 compared with March 2017.

Total UK public sector employment in March 1999 was 5.40 million, ONS data showed. 

The number of people in ‘zero-hours contracts’ as their main job dropped by 104,000 from March 2017 to 780,000.

The reclassification of English housing associations caused a decline of 102,000 people employed in the public sector between March 2017 and March 2018 and an increase of 542,000 in the private sector, the ONS noted.

Although excluding this reclassification, public sector employment actually increased by 42,000 while private sector employment rose by 398,000 between March 2017 and March 2018.

In March 2018, there were 1.64 million people employed in the National Health Service (NHS), accounting for 30.6% of all people employed in the public sector.

Just over 28% (28.2%) of those employed in the public sector worked in education.

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