10 July, 2011

Public service jobs in Wellington

I've just seen some eye-popping numbers on job growth in the public sector of the Wellington regional economy over the last 10 years.  I'm working on some ideas around the product manufacturing sector in Wellington (more on that another time) and wanted to know the make-up of the regional economy.  First up, let's look at population and job growth between 2000 and 2010 :
  • Regional population 11%
  • Regional total jobs  15%
  • National population 14%
  • National jobs 19%
More population implies more public service front-line deliverers, but no more analysts and policy advisers. Public sector jobs should grow at or below the growth in population, unless major additional services are being delivered (and then only if funded by GDP growth above the population growth rate). An excessive public sector sucks up money and talent that should be utilised in wealth-creating sectors of the economy.

So what has the Wellington region's public sector job growth been? I had an awareness that the public sector had grown between 2000 and 2010, but I was staggered by my calculations using the official statistics (counted at February each year). 

Social services
  • Preschool education 142% (expected given the huge funding boost)
  • School education 4% (age demographics may mean less need for more teachers, but I don't have the numbers)
  • Tertiary education 41% (reflecting the increase in government funding)
  • Adult & community education 26% (likely to have come down after the recent funding cuts)
  • Social assistance services 28%
  • Hospitals 19%
There are some private sector jobs here, but it's mainly public sector. You can argue whether or not those increases are justified. I suspect some represent poor quality spending, but unless there's a compelling case to the contrary, people seem to like increases in front-line services in health and education. But be prepared to be shocked when we look at the rest of the public sector.

Central government
  • Central government administration (that's the core public service excluding the other subsectors below) 52%
  • Regulatory services 62%
  • Public order and safety 52%
  • Justice 65%
  • Defence 45% (there are no regular force units in Wellington)
  • Heritage 76%
Local government
  • Local government 53%
None of these are double-counted; they are all discrete sectors with substantial numbers of jobs (typically thousands).  I should also mention management consultants and contractors, most of whom in this region will be feeding off the public sector. Get this: 92% growth in job numbers, and it's a big sector!

I don't remember feeling the public service was under-staffed in 2000, so what are all the extra services that all these extra people are supposed to be delivering? There is something badly wrong here, folks, and it's you and I that are paying for it.

Disclosure: I am on the board of the Tertiary Education Commission, which has been working hard to improve value for money from its spend with education providers and has slashed its own job numbers over the last few years.

1 comment:

trev said...

Two words Jim . Nanny state