Public Sector Employment in Scotland Statistics for 1st Quarter 2024

Statistics based on administrative records and surveys of individual public sector bodies carried out by the Scottish Government and the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is a snapshot of employment as at March 2024.

Devolved Public Sector Employment in Scotland; Headcount

The devolved public sector includes:

  • Devolved Civil Service
  • Local Government, covering Scottish Local Authorities, Police and Fire Services (up to Q1 2013), Valuation Joint Boards and Regional Transport Partnerships
  • Police and Fire Services (Q2 2013 onwards)
  • NHS in Scotland
  • Further Education Colleges
  • Devolved Public Corporations
  • Other Devolved Public Bodies (which covers Non-Departmental Bodies and other bodies).

Employment in the devolved public sector was 548,200 in March 2024. This is 6,630 (1.2%) higher than in March 2023.  This increase is largely due to an increase in NHS employment of 6,200 (3.4%).

Figure 5: Local Government and NHS employ the largest number of people in the Devolved Public Sector

Breakdown of Devolved Public Sector employment (Headcount) in Scotland as at March 2024

Figure 5. tree map of devolved Public Sector Employment showing relative size of public bodies

Note: Totals may not equal the sum of the individual parts due to rounding

Source: Public Sector Employment in Scotland, Quarter 1 2024

The increase over the year in the devolved public sector headcount was due to the following changes (changes are given from March 2023 to March 2024):

  • employment in NHS increased by 6,200 (3.4%) to 187,200 [1]
  • employment in Local Government increased by 10 (0.0%) to 262,000
  • employment in Devolved Civil Service increased by 510 (1.9%) to 28,200
  • employment in Other Public Bodies increased by 570 (2.6%) to 22,400
  • employment in Public Corporations increased by 480 (6.1%) to 8,000


  • employment in Further Education Colleges decreased by 720 (-5.5%) to 12,400
  • employment in Police and Fire Related Services decreased by 430 (-1.5%) to 27,300

Figure 6: Public Corporations had the largest percentage increase over the year across the Devolved Public Sector

Change in Devolved Public Sector employment (Headcount) in Scotland from March 2023 to March 2024

Figure 6. bar chart showing annual percentage change for Devolved Public Sector bodies

Source: Public Sector Employment in Scotland, Quarter 1 2024


[1] NHS employment statistics for the number of staff directly employed by NHS Scotland (headcount) were published by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) on 4 June 2024, with data relating to 31 March 2024 in their NHS Scotland official workforce statistics publication


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