By Claire West

Employment in the National Health Service increased across the UK in the first quarter of this year, new figures from the Office for National Statistics on public sector employment by broad industry group show. However, public sector employment in education and public administration saw
increases in some parts of the country and decreases in others.

By industry, the largest public sector employer is the NHS. During this period it was 1.626 million (seasonally adjusted), or 27 per cent of total public sector employment. Employment in the NHS increased by 4.2 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2009, a rise of 66,000 overall.

NHS employment grew in all parts of the UK; however, it increased most in the East Midlands, where it was up by 7.3 per cent, followed by the East of England at 7.0 per cent and the West Midlands at 6.1 per cent. NHS employment grew least in Scotland, at 1.2 per cent, followed by the North East at 1.3 per cent.

At the same time, education accounted for 23 per cent of total public sector employment (a headcount of 1.417 million (seasonally adjusted). However, this was not spread evenly across the regions: education accounts for 29 per cent of total public sector employment in the West Midlands
but only 18 per cent in London. Overall, public sector employment in education was up by 0.5 per cent on 2009.

However across the UK this ranged from an increase of 6.6 per cent for the East of England, followed by 5.2 per cent in Wales and 3.2 per cent in the East Midlands, to a decline of 3.6 per cent in the North West, followed by a drop of 3.2 per cent in the South West.

Public administration accounted for 20 per cent of public sector employment in the first quarter of
2010. This was up by 0.4 per cent (seasonally adjusted) on the same quarter of 2009.

Again, however, there were marked variations between the regions, varying between an increase of 8.2 per cent in the North East, followed by 5.0 per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber, and a decrease of 6.2 per cent in Wales, followed by a drop of 3.2 per cent in the West Midlands.

“These new analyses will help users understand regional differences in public sector employment
in more depth than before”, says David Matthews, the ONS statistician responsible for them.

“Previously we had not published the industry breakdowns by region, only at national level.”