The QLD Govt last week finally released their Public Sector employment data for March 2020 (which is to be now a biannual rather than quarterly release); this is the first such release since the June 2019 quarter results.
It shows FTE employment across the State increased by 1.7% for the year to March 2020 which equates to a 15.5% increase in the 5 years since coming to power. On a compounding annual rate that is 2.9% per year. Over the same period Queensland’s population growth has been running at an (estimated) 1.6% per year; clearly therefore the Government’s principle of maintaining Public Sector employment growth to match population growth has not been met.
Considering the data at a regional level we see growth for the past 5 years in Greater Brisbane has been somewhat less than across the Rest of QLD (15.0% versus 16.0%).
Cairns Public Sector employment grew by 1.5% y/y, 14.6% in 5 years at an annual rate of 2.8%. Townsville was up 1.2% y/y, 10.5% in the past five years at an annual rate of 2.0%.
The Government have argued in the past (with some degree of validity) that to compare total Public Sector employment growth with population growth is misleading since growth in Education and Health employment has been under additional pressures beyond simple population numbers. While we accept that this argument (sometimes referred to as the Coaldrake nuance) has some degree of validity it is worth considering that it was the Government themselves who set the Fiscal Principle in the first place and made no such distinction. (We have discussed this issue in some detail previously…see here)
However, if we do strip out Education and Health employment from the relevant calculations we see FTEs have increased by just 0.1% in the year to March 2020 and 5.8% in the past five years at a compound rate of 1.1%…which is certainly well below population growth.
Dr. Marcus Smith has also posted on this data with further breakdowns by Department.