Public Sector Employment in Scotland: statistics for fourth quarter 2017

Employment snapshot statistics based on administrative records and surveys of individual public sector bodies as at December 2017.

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
Q4 1999 474,400 129,800 14,500 - 15,700 8,600 296,000 9,000 474,400
Q4 2011 503,900 154,400 16,600 - 15,000 14,600 284,000 20,000 490,400
Q4 2012 499,800 155,800 16,400 - 13,600 15,100 278,000 20,000 485,800
Q4 2013 501,400 158,100 16,700 29,300 13,600 13,700 248,000 22,000 486,800
Q4 2014 503,500 160,500 17,300 28,600 13,900 14,100 247,000 22,000 488,800
Q4 2015 503,200 161,400 16,800 28,200 13,900 15,200 245,000 22,000 488,200
Q4 2016 501,900 162,300 16,800 27,900 13,900 15,300 243,000 23,000 486,800
Q4 2017 504,300 163,400 17,300 27,600 13,900 15,400 243,000 23,000 489,100
Change on year to:
Q4 2017 2,390 1,140 430 -270 -30 90 720 310 2,360
% change on year:
Q4 2017 0.5% 0.7% 2.5% -1.0% -0.2% 0.6% 0.3% 1.4% 0.5%


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 not part of the public 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.

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).


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