ICAEW chart of the week: Public sector employment

Headcount / FTEs - Health and social work: 1,925,000 / 1,657,000; Education 1,500,000 / 1,105,000; Public administration 1,056,000 / 897,000; HM Forces and Police: 402,000 / 391,000; Other 505,000 / 464,000.

The #icaewchartoftheweek is about public sector employment, illustrating how just under 5.4m people work for public bodies in the UK or around 4.5m full-time equivalents (FTEs). This is 16.5% of the total UK workforce of 32.8m as of last September on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

The largest employer in the public sector is the NHS, with a headcount of 1.7m out of the 1.9m who work in the health and social work sector (1.5m FTEs). Included in the million or so people who work in public administration is the 451,000-strong Civil Service (419,000 FTEs) with most of the remaining 605,000 working for local authorities and non-departmental public bodies (FTEs 478,000).

Total public sector headcount has started to increase again in recent years with NHS and non-NHS headcount up 6.8% and 0.6% respectively over a nadir of 5.2m three years ago (up 2.5% overall), compared with an increase of 3.8% and a fall of 12.1% respectively over the previous seven years (down 7.8% overall between September 2009 and December 2016).

With increasing demand on the NHS from more people living longer and the ‘end of austerity’ we should expect to see further increases in public sector employment over the next few years.