The New Zealand public sector consists of around 2,900 agencies, separated into central government (known as the State sector) and local government. There are a wide range of central government agencies – 28 Public Service departments, 6 non-Public Service departments, 3 Offices of Parliament, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, 20 District Health Boards, 27 tertiary education institutions, approximately 2,435 school boards of trustees, 76 other Crown entities and around 150 Crown entity subsidiaries, 56 Public Finance Act organisations, and 17 state-owned enterprises and mixed ownership companies. The public sector also includes 67 Territorial Local Authorities and 16 Regional Councils.
The New Zealand public sector employed around 353,500 people (known as public servants) as at 30 June 2016, about 14.4% of the country’s total workforce. The State sector employed around 300,000 people and local government had around 53,500 employees. Over the period 2011-2016 the public sector workforce grew by 4.2%, compared to private sector growth of 14.1%.
The New Zealand Public Service employed 47,570 people as at 30 June 2016, representing around 16% of the State sector and 1.9% of the New Zealand workforce. The education sector has the largest share of the State sector (36%), followed by the health sector (23%), State-owned enterprises (10%), with the New Zealand Police, the New Zealand Defence Force and other government entities making up the remaining 15%.The Public Service workforce remained about the same in size over the period 2011-2016, whereas the health and local government workforces grew by 9.8% and 32.4% respectively. In the year to 30 June 2016, the number of full time equivalent (FTE) employees in the Public Service increased by 547 (1.2%) to 45,895. The size of the Public Service workforce is influenced by functions moving into or out of the Public Service as well as changes within agencies. There are differences in how these numbers are calculated compared to those for Core Government Administration - Capping.
During the year to June 2016, sixteen Public Service agencies increased their FTE employees while 10 agencies reported a decrease as shown in the figure below. The largest increase in FTEs was at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to support: new functions (New Zealand Intellectual Property Office, Standards New Zealand, the Government Property Group and some functions from the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority); increased demand (particularly for immigration services) as well as new services introduced in the Companies Office, the Labour Inspectorate and Government Procurement.
The table above also shows the number of employees on fixed-term employment agreements at the end of each of the last five years. In June 2016 fixed-term employees comprised 7.5% of the Public Service workforce, almost exactly the same proportion as in June 2012.
Public Service staff are employed in 28 agencies that provide a wide range of activities including policy advice and customer services for social welfare, health, education, employment, market regulation, economic growth, security, taxation, administration of the law, transport infrastructure, immigration, citizenship, public records, natural resources management and much more. Their work spreads across 255 different occupations that are divided into ten broad occupation groups as shown in the following table. The two largest groups of FTEs are ‘Inspectors and Regulatory Officers’ and ‘Social, Health and Education Workers’ that account for nearly 40% of the Public Service workforce.
Over the period 2011-2016, there was a large increase (55.1%) in Information Professionals, a group that includes occupations such as librarians and statisticians. This increase largely reflects reclassification of occupations in two agencies (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Ministry of Social Development). The next largest increase (26.4%) over this period was in the Other Professionals group, partly due to an increase in the number of park rangers at the Department of Conservation. The group of Clerical and Administrative Workers continued to decline, down 18.0% over the five year period. Their share of the Public Service workforce declined from 18.3% in 2007 to 8.6% in 2016. This probably reflects the wider impact of improving technology and information systems on the demand for clerical work.
The Wellington region, as the capital, had the largest proportion of the Public Service workforce, with 41.9%. This was followed by Auckland (20.3%), Canterbury (9.1%) and Waikato (8.1%). These four regions accounted for 79.5% of the Public Service workforce. Public Service employees’ regional distribution has been relatively stable in recent years.