Public sector employment, UK: March 2024

Estimates of people employed in the public and private sectors in the UK.

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Dyddiad y datganiad:
11 June 2024

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
10 September 2024

1. Main points

  • Total public sector employment increased in March 2024 compared with the previous quarter and the previous year; the March 2024 level is the highest since March 2012.

  • There were an estimated 5.95 million employees in the public sector in March 2024, which is 24,000 (0.4%) more than in December 2023 and 125,000 (2.1%) more than in March 2023.

  • Employment in central government was an estimated 3.76 million in March 2024, up 27,000 (0.7%) compared with December 2023 and up 129,000 (3.5%) compared with March 2023; the main contributors to this increase were the NHS, the Civil Service, and local authority schools becoming academies.

  • The NHS employed an estimated 2.02 million people in March 2024, an increase of 12,000 (0.6%) compared with December 2023 and an increase of 79,000 (4.1%) compared with March 2023.

  • There were 543,000 employees in the Civil Service in March 2024, up 8,000 (1.5%) compared with December 2023 and up 22,000 (4.2%) compared with March 2023.

  • Employment in local government was an estimated 1.99 million in March 2024, which is 3,000 (0.2%) less than in December 2023 and 5,000 (0.3%) less than in March 2023.

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2. Public sector employment data

Public sector employment
Dataset | Released 11 June 2024
Quarterly estimates of UK and regional public sector employment made up of central government (including Civil Service), local government and public corporations. The estimates also include a breakdown by industry.

Public sector employment time series
Dataset | Dataset ID: PSE | Released 11 June 2024
Seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted quarterly time series of UK public sector employment, containing the latest estimates.

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3. Measuring the data

Labour Force Survey reweighting and revisions to total and private sector employment estimates

Estimates of total employment and private sector employment derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) were revised following the reintroduction of reweighted LFS estimates in our Public sector employment, UK: December 2023 bulletin. LFS periods from July to September 2022 onwards were reweighted to incorporate estimates of the size and composition of the UK population, published in November 2023. The reweighting exercise created a discontinuity in the non-seasonally adjusted UK and regional private sector series between June 2022 and September 2022. Users should take this discontinuity into consideration when looking at long-term movements in the series. However, we modelled the seasonally adjusted UK levels of total employment back to June to August 2011, to ensure that headline levels of total and private sector employment can be assessed without a discontinuity.

For further information, please see our Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators article. These LFS estimates are official statistics in development

An issue was detected in the weighting of the LFS for Northern Ireland in our December 2023 publication, for the November 2023 to January 2024 quarter only. While only Northern Ireland data were affected, as a consequence, we were not able to publish regional estimates of private sector employment for December 2023. This has been corrected for this release, but has resulted in revisions for December 2023 in the Public sector employment dataset and Public sector employment time series.

Reclassification of further education institutions in England

On 29 November 2022, we announced the reclassification of further education corporations, sixth form college corporations, and designated institutions in England from the non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) sector to the central government sector. Our Economic statistics sector classification - classification update and forward work plan: November 2022 article has more information on this classification decision.

This reclassification will be reflected in the public sector employment statistics in due course.


For more information on how labour market data sources were affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see our Coronavirus and the effects on UK labour market statistics article.

View our Comparison of labour market data sources and the main differences article.


The main source of public sector employment (PSE) data is the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey, which is supplemented by data from external sources. Further information can be found in our PSE Quality and Methodology Information (QMI).

Full-time equivalents

While this bulletin focuses on headcount estimates of PSE, full-time equivalent estimates (based on the number of hours worked divided by the standard full-time hours) are available in our accompanying PSE datasets.

Seasonal adjustment

All PSE data time series in this release, with the exception of the regional series, are seasonally adjusted to aid interpretation. Relationships that hold in the unadjusted series do not necessarily hold for the seasonally adjusted series. For example, total PSE equals the total of all public sector industry estimates before seasonal adjustment, but this is not necessarily true after seasonal adjustment.

Reclassifications between the public and private sectors

Comparisons of public and private sector employment over time are complicated by several major reclassifications. This is where bodies employing large numbers of people have moved between the public and private sectors. We produce estimates of public and private sector employment excluding the effects of major reclassifications to help you understand underlying trends in employment. We publish these alongside estimates of total public and private sector employment in Tables 5, 6a and 7a of the PSE datasets.


More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in our Public sector employment QMI.

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5. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), published 11 June 2024, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Public sector employment, UK: March 2024

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Labour Market team
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