Public sector employment in Scotland: statistics for second quarter 2018

The statistics in this release are 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 June 2018.

Table 4: Total devolved public sector employment by sector; Scotland, Headcount

Not Seasonally Adjusted

Total Devolved Public Sector NHS 6 Civil Service 8,9 Police and Fire Services 2 Further Education Colleges 3,5 Other Public Bodies 3,8 Local Government 2,4,6,7,11,12 Public Corporations 10,13 Estimated Total Devolved Public Sector excluding major reclassifications
Q2 1999 470,900 129,100 14,600 - 15,700 8,500 294,000 9,000 470,900
Q2 2012 503,500 154,900 16,600 - 14,500 14,600 283,000 20,000 489,700
Q2 2013 500,900 156,600 16,700 30,200 13,400 14,000 249,000 21,000 486,600
Q2 2014 503,400 159,100 17,200 29,000 13,500 13,900 248,000 23,000 488,700
Q2 2015 503,400 160,600 17,900 28,300 13,900 14,100 246,000 22,000 488,600
Q2 2016 502,400 161,300 16,800 28,100 14,100 15,600 244,000 23,000 487,400
Q2 2017 502,600 162,200 17,100 27,700 13,900 15,700 243,000 23,000 487,500
Q2 2018 504,300 162,300 17,500 27,600 13,800 15,900 244,000 23,000 489,400
Change on year to:
Q2 2018 1,730 60 390 -60 -100 190 1,210 40 1,900
% change on year:
Q2 2018 0.3% 0.0% 2.3% -0.2% -0.7% 1.2% 0.5% 0.2% 0.4%


1. Employment figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred, with the exception of local government and public corporation figures; change on year rounded to the nearest ten; percentages are based on unrounded figures. "-" denotes blank entries. Totals may not equal the sum of individual parts due to rounding.

2. Police and Fire Reform: From Q2 2013 Police and Fire Services have been reclassified as central government rather than local government (as their predecessors were). All police staff are employed by the Scottish Police Authority ( SPA) whether deployed with the SPA or with the Police Service of Scotland. Although the SPA is an ’Other Public Body’, to avoid duplication and ensure comprehensive numbers are reported for the Police and Fire category all police staff have been included within Police and Fire (and not the Other Public Bodies category) from Q2 2013.

3. In October 2012 the Scottish Agricultural College ( SAC) merged with 3 colleges to form Scotland's Rural College. This new organisation is classified as a public body as the SAC was. This has resulted in staffing levels moving from the Further Education to Other Public Bodies categories to reflect the merger of these organisations. Although the SPA is an ’Other Public Body’ to avoid duplication and ensure comprehensive numbers are reported for the Police and Fire category, from Q2 2013 all police staff have been included within the Police and Fire category (and not in the Other Public Bodies category).

4. A number of local government staff have transferred to arms length organisations which are part of the private sector under National Accounts definitions. For example, staff transferred from Scottish Borders Council to SB Cares on 1st April 2015 and from Angus Council to Angus Alive on 1st December 2015 thus explaining part of the decrease in local government employment.

5. Information for further education colleges in Scotland is based on collected information from Q4 2010. The method used to create the back series is detailed in the background notes of this publication.

6. From Q4 2011, NHS has responsibility for employing Healthcare staff within prisons. Previously, these people were employed directly by the Scottish Prison Service ( SPS). Also, In Q2 2012 1,491 & 1062.1 FTE headcount staff transferred from Highland Council to NHS Highland as a result of the move to integrated health and social care services.

7. Prior to Q2 2006, Scottish Borders Council headcount and FTE figures do not include Casual/Relief employees who were paid in the reference period. This means that these figures underestimate the true headcount and FTE for Scottish Borders Council.

8. In Q4 2015, Historic Scotland (previously part of the devolved civil service) merged with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (a non-departmental public body in the other public bodies category) to become Historic Environment Scotland in the Other Public Bodies category.

9. From Q2 2017, the Civil Service figures include the Scottish Fiscal Commission.

10. From Q3 2001, the Public Corporations include Registered Social Landlords. This series uses estimates which are predominantly based on annual values provided by the Scottish Housing Regulator.

11. From Q3 2006, the Local Government figures include Community Safety Glasgow. The series has been estimated using annual administrative data from the inter-departmental business register. Actual Figures are used from Q1 2017.

12. Prior to Q1 2016, Aberdeen Council headcount and FTE figures may be an underestimate due to methods used to collate this data.

13. From Q2 2017, the Public Corporations includes the Crown Estate Scotland (Interim Management).


If you have any enquiries relating to Labour Market Statistics then please contact us at:


Telephone: 0131 244 6773

Fax: 0300 244 1060

Labour Market Statistics
OCEAES: Economic Strategy and Policy
Scottish Government
5th Floor
5 Atlantic Quay
150 Broomielaw
G2 8LU

We welcome any comments on both the format and content of the website, including any problems you may encounter.

You may also contact the Statistician Group Enquiries for general information.

Back to top