Thursday, May 30, 2013

Divergent trends in employee numbers

Yesterday the CSO published their latest update of the Earnings and Labour Costs Survey.  Using complementary results from the Quarterly National Household Survey the CSO provide some details of employee numbers by sector.

The figures exclude the Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector and  by definition excludes all people classified as self-employed.  The figures are number of employees rather than people at work so a person with two jobs would be counted twice.

The pattern for total employees presents a familiar pattern.  There was rapid decline in 2008 and 2009 which moderated in 2010 and the total has been going nowhere since the beginning of 2011.

Total Employees

However, if we get a public/private decomposition of the total since the levelling off at the start of 2011 then a slightly divergent picture emerges. 

Public and Private Employees

Although the total has remained around the same the number of public sector employees has fallen from 409,000 to 384,000 while the number of private sector employees has increased from 1,107,000 to 1,144,000.  The fall in private sector employees has been offset by the rise in private sector employees.

The public sector includes civil servants, public servants, contract and agency staff with public bodies and employees of commercial and non-commercial semi-state bodies.  The figures are done on a headcount rather than full-time equivalent basis and peaked at 427,000 at the end of 2008.

The figure indicate that there has been a rise of around 35,000 in the number of private sector employees over the past three years.  It would be ideal if a further breakdown of full-time/part-time was provided for the public and private sectors.  The QNHS does provide figures for full-time/part-time employment but it does not provide a public/private sector breakdown (and also includes the self-employed as well as employees). 

A quick glance at the most recent QNHS release (Table 1a) shows the total number of people in employment (employees and self-employed) remaining relatively steady over the past two years but that a fall in full-time employment has been offset by a rise in part-time employment.  Given the partially overlapping and partially different coverage of the series it is difficult to establish exactly what is going on.  It could be that there is a reduction in full-time employment in the public sector and an increase in part-time employment in the private sector.  The figures from the CSO do not fully confirm this though.

We can say that the number of employees has been increasing in the private sector.  We can also see that the number of employees in the public sector has been decreasing.  The rise in the private sector is negligible compared to the fall that came before it but it is a small move in the right direction nonetheless.

1 comment:

  1. Good post Seamus.

    I have been trying to figure out exactly where the Minister for Enterprise got his figures from when he says private sector employment increased by more than 25,000 since we launched the action plan.

    Between Q1 2012 - Q1 2013 there was an increase of 37,500 but it seems strange he would downplay the figures when speaking to the media!