QLD employment and the Public Sector

Once again the question of the impact that Public Sector hirings are having on the labour market in QLD has raised its head again; this time by way of an article in today’s Australian by Sarah Elks. On the back of the recently released QLD Quarterly Work Force Profile for the Sept 2017 quarter (available here), we thought we might update a post we originally made just before the state election (see here).

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% of total Trend employment 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 10.7%). It has since increased to 261,224 (Sept 2017) which remains at 10.7% of Trend employment. So since the ALP Government came to power we have seen an increase, since mid-Feb 2015, of 23,370.

Since Feb 2015 (to Sept 2017) Queensland has added 123,800 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 251,917; this would mean the sector headcount would be 9,307 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 242,134; or 19,090 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 precisely where it actually is, 261,224.

The “extra” Public Sector headcount can therefore be said to lie somewhere in the region between zero and 19,090; or between zero and 15% of the total increase in Trend employment to Sept 2017. The suggestion that “all the jobs increases are in the Public Sector” is plainly inaccurate. Indeed it is worth noting that this variance has decreased since our first post; for the June data we considered the spread of variance to be between 2% and 24%.

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