Some employment statistics

Yesterday, NIO Minister Angela Smith welcomed the lowest ever NI unemployment figures – of 4%, 2nd lowest in the UK, and revealed that there were 693,450 employee jobs filled in September 2005. So, in light of the claim by one commenter in a previous thread on the percentage of the workforce employed in the public sector I though I’d have a closer look at those figures – see over the fold.The Equality Commission recently released its findings on the NI workforce which gives the figures for 2004.. as I noted here

Those figures show that 188,000 people were employed, either full or part time, in the public sector in 2004 – see the report summary[pdf file]

As Angela Smith pointed out yesterday

Seasonally adjusted figures from the Quarterly Employment Survey show the highest number of employee jobs on record for Northern Ireland. The survey estimated that there were 693,450 employee jobs filled in September 2005, representing a net increase of 270 over the quarter and an increase of 9,710 over the year. Over three-quarters of the annual increase in jobs was accounted for by a rise in full-time work.

That’s 693,450 total workforce this year. And if we use the numbers given, in 2004 that figure would have been 683,740 of which 188,000 were employed in the public sector – or 27.5%. The statement yesterday also pointed out that –

The Minister said: “The number of jobs in Northern Ireland has grown steadily over the last two and a half years, despite the difficult trading conditions in which our businesses are operating. The success of private sector services in Northern Ireland has been key to this growth, contributing over 8,000 jobs during the last year alone.

Which also leaves, approximately, 1,710 new public sector employees in the last year compared to the 8,000 new private sector jobs.

But it’s also worth highlighting how those public sector jobs are distributed between the various areas of employment – Health, Civil Service, Education, Security-related and District Councils, again from the Equality Commission report summary

In 2004 there were almost 157,000 full-time employees in the public sector, an increase of just under 5,800 employees (3.8%) from 2003. The public sector is comprised of five main sectors, namely: Health, containing one-third (34.4%) of all public sector full-time employees, followed by the Civil Service (26% of employees), Education (14%), Security-related employment (11%) and District Councils (6%).

Trimming down the Civil Service would reduce the number employed in that sector.. but there is little prospect of seriously reducing the number of people employed in the Health and Education sectors.

Now I may be missing something that’s obvious to everyone else.. and my arithmetic may have slipped up somewhere.. but I think it’s important to get a grasp of the actual figures involved.. and what they represent.