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Workforce trend

The public sector workforce has undergone significant changes over the last two and a half decades as shown in Figure 1.2. Major state sector reforms during the 1990s saw a 20% contraction of the workforce from 343,000 people in 1989 to around 273,000 in the mid-1990s. Privatisation in the early 1990s resulted in a significant decrease in the workforce of State-owned Enterprises. Since 2001 the public sector workforce has grown by 29%, to 353,000 people in 2015. Growth has varied in each sector, which is related to an increasing population and changing demographics. Over the 2001-2015 period, the population of New Zealand has increased by 18% and the median age has increased by about three years.

Figure 1.2 The public sector workforce, 1989–2015

Figure 1.2 The public sector workforce, 1989–2015

Over the four-year period, 2011-2015, the public sector workforce grew by 4.2%, which compares to private sector growth of 8.4%. Public sector growth was driven by Local Government (+26.2%) and modest growth in the State sector (+1.2%) as shown in Table 1.1.

Within the State sector, growth has varied widely in each sector between 2011 and 2015. The workforce in State-owned Enterprises decreased by 11.2%. The Health sector increased by 8.6% while the Public Service grew by 3%.

Table 1.1 Public Sector workforce by sector (headcount), 30 June 2011–2015

Sectors

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

% change 2011–15

Public Sector

339,339

343,984

342,825

350,521

353,455

4.2%

State Sector

298,939

298,284

297,625

300,621

302,455

1.2%

Public Service

45,807

45,444

46,546

47,120

47,159

3.0%

Health Sector (DHB)

62,674

63,914

65,177

66,460

68,045

8.6%

Education Sector

106,100

103,500

104,600

104,800

107,900

1.7%

State-owned Enterprises

37,600

38,700

36,300

35,600

33,400

-11.2%

Other

46,758

46,726

45,002

46,641

45,951

-1.7%

Local Government

40,400

45,700

45,200

49,900

51,000

26.2%

Private Sector

1,841,661

1,845,216

1,859,075

1,931,079

1,995,945

8.4%

Total Sector

2,181,000

2,189,200

2,201,900

2,281,600

2,349,400

7.7%

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