Are all QLD’s new jobs due to public sector hiring?

As we run towards the last few days of the Queensland state election we’re hearing lots about employment from both the Government (who are talking up solid jobs growth) and the Opposition (who are highlighting weak full-time jobs). There is also a certain amount of talk from the commentariat about how the jobs growth in Queensland has been built on the back of Public Sector hirings; but is this really true? Let’s look at the data.

When Campbell Newman’s LNP came to government in March 2012 the Public Sector headcount stood at 244,135, which equaled 10.7% of the State’s Trend employment number at that time. By the end of 2013 that percentage had fallen to a low of 9.9%, with headcount at 227,836 (a reduction of 16,299), on the back of the much-discussed “sacking” of public servants.

By the time the LNP lost the January 2015 election Public Sector headcount had risen again. This data is only provided on a quarterly basis so we can either consider the number from Dec 2014 (235,336, 10.2%) or from March 2015 (240,372, 10.4%) {The new ALP Government were sworn in on Feb 14th 2015, so we are assuming headcount of 237,854. 10.3% at that time}

The new Government went about replacing those Public Sector employees and by June 2016 the headcount had risen to 252,870 (or 10.8%). It has since increased to 259,373 (June 2017) which remains at 10.8% of Trend employment. So since the ALP Government came to power we have seen an increase, since mid-Feb, of 21,519.

Since Feb 2015 (to June 2017) Queensland has added 88,300 to Trend employment.

Let’s consider what the Public Sector headcount would have been under three alternative scenarios,

Scenario 1. Public Sector headcount remains at the same percentage level as when the ALP came to power in Feb 2015 (i.e. 10.3%)

Public Sector headcount would sit at 247,983; this would mean the sector headcount would be 11,390 lower than now

Scenario 2. Public Sector headcount as a percentage of employment fell back to the lows seen under the previous LNP government (i.e. 9.9%)

Public Sector headcount would sit at 238,352; or 21,021 lower than now

Scenario 3. Public Sector headcount returned to the same percentage level as when the LNP took over from the ALP in 2012 (i.e. 10.7%)

Public Sector headcount would now sit at 257,613; or 1,760 lower than now

The “extra” Public Sector headcount can therefore be said to lie somewhere in the region between 1,760 and 21,021; or between 2% and 24% of the total increase in Trend employment to June 2017. The suggestion that “all the jobs increases are in the Public Sector” is plainly inaccurate.

Nick Behrens over at QEAS has written a good piece talking about seeing through some of the spin in economic data…worth a read.

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