Public sector employment in Scotland: statistics for fourth quarter 2013

Employment snapshot statistics based on administrative records and surveys of individual public sector bodies.

Public Sector Employment In Scotland Statistics For 4 th Quarter 2013

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). The publication includes information on public sector employment in Scotland with distinctions made for employment in devolved bodies and reserved bodies (located in Scotland).

Key Changes to the public sector affecting this publication:

On 1 November 2013, the Office for National Statistics ( ONS) announced the reclassification of Royal Mail as a former Public Corporation (with effect from October 2013). This reclassification has resulted in approximately 12,300 staff (headcount) moving into private sector.

Similarly Direct Line Group has been added to the Public Sector Classification Guide as a former Public Corporation from September 2013, resulting in the transfer of 96 staff (headcount) into the private sector. The impact of these reclassifications are covered in the key points below. Some secondary analysis is presented in this publication to provide users with a public sector employment series which allows a consistent comparison over time.

More information is available on the Public Sector Employment Websection.

Some of the key points (based on headcount) are as follows:

  • In Q4 2013 there were 566,300 people employed in the public sector in Scotland, a decrease of 13,800 (2.4%) since Q4 2012. This level is similar to that seen in 2002.
  • There were 2,559,000 people employed in Scotland in Q4 2013, an increase of 90,100 (3.6%) over the year. In Q4 2013 public sector employment accounted for 22.1% of total employment, down from 23.5% in the previous year; the lowest proportion seen since the series began in 1999.
  • In Q4 2013, there were 1,992,200 people employed in the private sector in Scotland, an increase of 103,900 (5.5%) over the year. Private sector employment in Scotland accounts for 77.9% of total employment; the highest proportion seen since the series began in 1999.
  • Of the total 566,300 people employed in the public sector in Scotland, 85.8% are accounted for by employment in the devolved public sector. Employment in the devolved public sector increased slightly (up 500 (0.1%)) over the year to 485,600 in Q4 2013.
  • Over the year, employment in devolved public sector decreased in both further education colleges by 600 (4.0%) and local government by 30,700 (11.1%). Employment increased in central government by 29,200 (11.8%), as a result of transfer of police and fire services from local to central government. Employment also increased in NHS by 2,400 (1.5%).
  • 14.2% of the total public sector employment relates to employment in the reserved public sector in Scotland. The reserved sector saw a decrease of 14,300 (15.0%) in headcount between Q4 2012 and Q4 2013. This was largely due to the reclassification of Royal Mail Plc. and Direct Line Group out of reserved public corporation and into private sector.
  • Within the reserved public sector, employment in civil service decreased by 1,100 (3.7%), public bodies by 300 (3.7%) and public corporations by 15,100 (76.0%) over the year to Q4 2013. The significant decrease in employment in public corporations was driven by ONS reclassification of Royal Mail and Direct Line Group from reserved public corporations into Plcs, which amounted to a reduction of 12,400 (sum of Royal Mail Plc. and Direct Line Group) over the year to Q4 2013. Employment in public sector financial institutions increased over the year by 2,200 (7.5%).
  • Overall, if banks were not included in the public sector, total reserved public sector employment would have decreased by 16,400 (24.8%), rather than 14,300 (15.0%) over the year. Over the year to Q4 2013 the total number of people employed in the public sector in Scotland would be lower to that seen in 1999.

N.B. Financial institutions are only included in the reserved public sector.

Public Sector Employment Websection

This Websection is in addition to this National Statistics publication

It contains detailed information including:

  • Employment levels for public bodies in Scotland broken down by age (Q1 2012 and Q1 2013). Information by age is considered Official Statistics rather than National Statistics due to it being a new data series.
  • Local government employment by local authority for the current quarter. A time series of total local government employment back to Q1 1999 and back to Q1 2011 by gender.
  • Detailed tables showing a full time series of data - all quarters back to Q1 1999 - are also available to download.
  • Background notes outlining the methodology used to compile this series.

UK Comparisons

Public Sector Employment for Government Office Regions and Nations of the UK can be found in the Office for National Statistics Publication.

Comparisons to UK data should be made using non-seasonally adjusted UK data.

See the regional tables at


Email: Susanne Ross

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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