nomis - official labour market statistics

Public Sector   (30/09/2010)

Sub-regional Public Sector Employee Job Estimates

BIS have released estimates of public sector employee jobs by local authority (LA) and travel to work area (TTWA) based on estimates from the Annual Business Inquiry (ABI).

The preferred source of public sector employment data is the National Statistics Public Sector Employment (PSE) series. This is published quarterly by ONS and the Scottish Government based on public sector returns. However, this source only provides employment estimates at national and regional (government office) level.

There are some limitations and caveats that should be understood before this data is used. In particular, unlike the Public Sector Employment figures produced by ONS and the Scottish Government, these estimates are measures of jobs not people/employment. They cover employee jobs rather than the wider measure of workforce jobs i.e. they exclude self-employed jobs, HM Forces and Government Supported Trainees. The estimates also exclude employee jobs in farm agriculture. Full details on the limitations and caveats of these estimates can be found in the first worksheet of the excel file which can be downloaded from the link below.

Sub-regional Public and Private Sector Employee Job Estimates (link)


Difference between ABI and PSE figures

The ONS's Public Sector Employment (PSE) surveys are its official and recommended source for estimates of employment in the sector as they have comprehensive coverage of employers. ONS's PSE estimates are produced on a national and regional (Government Office Region) basis. However, official PSE estimates are not available at a sub-regional level. To plug this gap, the ABI (Annual Business Inquiry) can be used to supplement the figures from PSE, but users need to be aware that there are differences between the official estimates of public sector employment and the ABI (table 1).


Table 1: A comparison of official PSE estimates and ABI estimates for Q3 2008
(Thousands; Headcount)

Region Official PSE ABI Estimates Difference
North West 665 648 17
North East 283 269 14
Yorkshire and the Humber 510 495 15
West Midlands 489 474 15
East Midlands 369 369 0
East of England 436 419 17
London 714 697 17
South East 661 642 19
South West 488 458 30
England 4614 4471 143
Wales 328 320 8
Scotland 576 612 36
Great Britain 5518 5403 115


There are several reasons for the differences between the estimates from PSE and ABI. PSE is a census of all public sector organisations so has complete coverage of the sector. The ABI is a sampled survey and applies appropriate 'weights' to estimate for the non-sampled businesses and is completed on an industry basis. This means that non-sampled public sector organisations are combined in the estimation process with private sector organisations.

In addition the ABI collects data at site level for some organisations which provides an accurate picture of the geography and industry for these. However, for many organisations employee figures are collected at the overall level and figures are apportioned out to the site level using auxiliary information to produce industry and geographical splits. This is an additional stage of estimation. A similar apportionment exists for PSE to produce estimates on a GOR basis but as this is done from an overall figure derived from a census the total level is deemed to be a more accurate picture.

The 2008 ABI employee estimates are based on a September reference date so are most comparable to the 2008Q3 Public Sector Employment figures. Since the publication of Q3 2008 estimates of public sector employment several major financial institutions (Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group) have been classified from the private to the public sector. This has served, along with other increases in employment over this period, to increase levels of public sector employment across all regions (table 2).


Table 2: A comparison of official PSE estimates 2008Q3 and 2010Q1
(Thousands )

Region 2008 Q3 2010 Q1 Difference
North West 665 696 31
North East 283 287 4
Yorkshire and the Humber 510 538 28
West Midlands 489 507 18
East Midlands 369 389 20
East of England 436 459 23
London 714 782 68
South East 661 694 33
South West 488 528 40
England 4614 4879 265
Wales 328 344 16
Scotland 576 610 34
Great Britain 5518 5833 315


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