Public sector employment in Scotland: statistics for third quarter 2020

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 September 2020.

This document is part of 2 collections

3. Devolved Public Sector Employment in Scotland; Headcount (see Table 3)

Employment in the devolved public sector was 12,590 (2.5%) higher at 515,700 in September 2020 compared with 503,100 in September 2019.

The devolved public sector includes:

Devolved Civil Service (see section 5),

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 (including Train Operating Companies, Q2 2020 onwards),

Other Devolved Public Bodies (which covers Non-Departmental Bodies and other bodies).

Chart 4 shows the size of each group in the devolved public sector as at September 2020.

Chart 4: Breakdown of Devolved Public Sector Employment by Category as at September 2020, Headcount
Chart 4 tree map of devolved Public Sector Employment showing relative size of public bodies

Source: Public Sector Employment in Scotland, Quarter 3 2020 Note: Totals may not equal the sum of the individual parts due to rounding

The increase in the overall headcount over the year in the devolved public sector was due to:

  • Employment levels in the NHS rising by 5,780 (3.5%) to 170,600 in September 2020[4];
  • Employment in Public Corporations increasing by 5,170 (60.7%) to 14,000 in September 2020;
  • Employment in the Devolved Civil Service rising by 1,110 (5.5%) to 21,400 in September 2020;
  • Employment in Scottish Local Government rising by 1,010 (0.4%) to 252,000 in September 2020;
  • The number of Police and Fire Service employees rising by 130 (0.5%) to 28,300 in September 2020;


  • Employment in Further Education Colleges fell by 320 (2.3%) to 13,600 in September 2020;
  • Employment in Other Public Bodies fell by 300 (1.8%) to 15,800 in September 2020.
Figure 3: Percentage Change (from September 2019 to September 2020) in the Devolved Public Sector, Headcount
Figure 3 bubble chart showing percentage annual change for Devolved Public Sector bodies

Public Corporations had the largest increase at 60.7%.

Local Government had the smallest increase at 0.4%

Further Education Colleges had the largest decrease at 2.3%



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