Last Wednesday the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published it's quarterly statistical bulletin for Public Sector Employment. Total public sector employment at March 2009 sat at 6.020 million, 20.7% of UK total employment.
Providing information for the first quarter of 2009, this is the first release to include the workers of RBS and Lloyds, (although the ONS have revised 2008 Q4 estimates to factor in these bank workers); "the classification of Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Lloyds Banking Group to the public sector increases employment in the public sector for Quarter 4 2008 by 230,000".
The headline figures show an increase of 285,000 since Q1 2008, and a quarterly increase from Q4 of 2008 of 3,000. With bank workers stripped out, 55,000 new employees have joined the public sector since this time last year.
The rise on Q4 2008 is broken down as such:
Central government (which includes the NHS) increased by 12,000, to 2,541,000;
Local government increased by 2,000, to 2,907,000;
Public corporations increased by 1,000 to 572,000 (230,000 of which are the bank employees);
Civil Service increased by 3,000 to 526,000.
The public sector 'industries' that have seen the biggest rises in headcount are education (9,000) and HM Forces (2,000).
Over the same period, employment in the private sector fell by 286,000. While 230,000 of these will be the RBS and Lloyds employees, 'lost' to the private sector in their reclassification to public sector, this still means private sector employment fell by 56,000 in the first quarter of 2009. As this is roughly equivalent to the number of jobs created in public sector, perhaps the Government's strategy for dealing with rising unemployment is simpler than they make out.