The New Zealand public sector in June 2017 consists of 2,900 agencies, separated into central government (known as the State sector) and local government. The central government includes a wide range of agencies – 29 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, 2,416 school boards of trustees, 70 other Crown entities and around 150 Crown entity subsidiaries, 56 organisation under the Public Finance Act, and 16 state-owned enterprises and mixed ownership companies. The local government includes 67 Territorial Local Authorities and 16 Regional Councils.The New Zealand public sector employed around 348,000 people (known as public servants) as at 30 June 2017, about 13.8% of the country’s total workforce. The State sector employed around 295,800 people and local government had around 52,200 employees. Over the period from 2013 to 2017 the public sector workforce is estimated to have grown by 1.5%. Over the same period, employment across the overall New Zealand employed workforce increased by 14.9% (as measured by Statistics NZ’s Household Labour Force Survey).
The New Zealand Public Service employed 48,900 people as at 30 June 2017, representing around 16.5% of the State sector and 1.9% of the New Zealand workforce. The education sector has the largest share of the State sector (34%), followed by the health sector (24%), State-owned enterprises (10%), with the New Zealand Police, the New Zealand Defence Force and other government entities making up the remaining 16%.
Over the period 2013-2017 the Public Service workforce grew by 5%, the health workforce grew by 7% and the local government workforce grew by 15%. The education and State-owned enterprise workforces are estimated to have fallen 3% and 22% respectively over the same period.
In the year to 30 June 2017, the number of full time equivalent (FTE) employees in the Public Service increased by 1,357 (3%) to 47,252. 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.
Public Service workforce composition
As at 30 June 2017, 22 Public Service agencies increased their FTE employees while seven agencies reported a decrease. The biggest changes in FTE was driven by the creation of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children (with over 3,000 staff transferring from the Ministry of Social Development), and the return of the operation at Mount Eden Prison to the Department of Corrections from a private provider (Serco). These changes has meant that the Department of Corrections is now the largest Public Service department.
This table shows the number of employees on fixed-term employment agreements at the end of each of the last five years. As at 30 June 2017, fixed-term employees comprised 7.5% of the Public Service workforce, 227 less than in 2013.
Public Service staff are employed in 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 248 different occupations that are aggregated 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 more than 40% of the Public Service workforce.Over the period 2013-2017, there was a large increase in Information Professionals (up 1,481 FTEs or 37.4%). This increase reflects reclassification of occupations in two agencies (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Ministry of Social Development). The next largest increase (16.9%) over this period was in the Other Professionals group, which is also due to a reclassification of occupations, this time at the Ministry for Primary Industries. Another increase was in the Inspectors and Regulatory Officers group (up 988 FTEs or 10.4%), largely driven by the increase in Corrections Officers from the return of the operation at Mount Eden Prison to the Department of Corrections. The Clerical and Administrative Workers group continued to decline, down 10% over the same period. Their share of the Public Service workforce declined from 18.3% in 2007 to 8.4% in 2017. 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 (20.6%), Canterbury (9.1%) and Waikato (8.1%). These four regions accounted for 79.8% of the Public Service workforce. Public Service employees’ regional distribution has been relatively stable in recent years.