NSW employed persons
of all NSW employed persons are NSW public sector employees
Annual full-time-equivalent employees
Growth in NSW employed persons
Growth in NSW public sector
Size of the NSW public sector workforce
The NSW public sector is the largest employer in the state. In 2018, the size of the
workforce grew, with annual full-time equivalent (FTE) employees increasing 0.2%
compared to 2017 (up 720 FTE). This increase followed a period of annual decreases
since a peak in 2012.
Table 2.1: Public Sector census headcount, census period FTE and annual FTE, 2008–2018
While the NSW public sector increased in size in 2018, the growth is notably lower
than the rate experienced in the broader NSW workforce over the same period or
anytime over the past four years.
Figure 2.2 highlights the year-on-year increases in the broader workforce since 2010,
compared to the public sector workforce, which experienced decreases from 2012 to
2017. While the number of public sector employees increased 0.7% in 2018 compared
to the previous year, the broader workforce experienced 3.9% growth over the same
period. Consequently, the proportion of NSW employed persons who worked for
the NSW public sector decreased to 9.8%, the lowest level since the launch of the
Workforce Profile in 1999.
Composition of the NSW public sector
While headcount measures the number of employees and is comparable to broader
workforce statistics, the census period FTE provides a better measure of the resource
level of the public sector workforce at June each year.
Table 2.2: Composition of the public sector by service, census period FTE 2017–18
Table 2.2 and Figure 2.4 show that the majority of services experienced increases in
FTE from 2017 to 2018. The largest proportional increases occurred in the health,
transport and teaching services, with rises of 2.2%, 1.8% and 1.2% respectively
compared to 2017.
The numbers of people employed in key frontline roles as nurses, teachers and police
officers all increased compared to 2017. In 2018, there are an additional 1,035 FTE
nurses (2.2% increase), 774 FTE teachers (1.2% increase) and 147 FTE police officers
(0.9% increase). These three employee groups account for 63.3% of overall growth.
The increase in the NSW Health Service was spread across most local health districts
and agencies. In addition to the extra 1,035 FTE nurses, the number of ambulance
officers rose by 205 FTE (5.4% increase) and medical practitioners by 463 FTE
The 1.8% increase in Transport Service FTE was concentrated in the Sydney East
region. It was spread across a range of roles, including construction project managers,
accountants and engineers, aligning with the significant infrastructure investment
The largest proportional decrease was in agencies external to the government sector.
This was due to the Treasury Corporation changing status to become a Crown service
within Treasury, producing a corresponding increase in other Crown services and the
Treasury cluster of 185 FTE.
The Public Service decreased 1.1% (662 FTE) compared to 2017. This was mainly due
to the transfer of disability services in Family and Community Services to private
providers under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which led to a
decrease of more than 4,400 FTE. Another contributing factor is the privatisation
of Titling and Registry Services from the Department of Finance, Services and
Innovation, which accounted for 335 FTE of the decrease. These decreases were
offset to a large degree by increases across the Public Service, with 71.2% of Public
Service agencies experiencing an increase in FTE.
Excluding the Family and Community Services cluster decrease, the rest of the Public
Service increased by 7.0% (3,407) FTE. Increases in the Department of Education
were a key contributor (increasing 1,150 FTE). This partly related to the creation of a
new division (Schools Infrastructure NSW), but also to a reporting shift of more than
600 FTE automobile drivers from School Administrative and Support (within other
Crown services) linked to improved occupation and salary award coding.
Table 2.3: Composition of the public sector by cluster, census period FTE, 2017–2018
The Planning and Environment cluster increased 332 FTE compared to the previous
year. Increases occurred across a range of roles, with key contributors being a 98 FTE
increase in Urban and Regional Planners, 98 FTE increase in Program or Project
Administrators and a 79 FTE increase in Policy and Planning Managers.
Corrective Services in the Justice cluster contributed a 571 FTE increase in the
Public Service. More than half of the increase occurred in the Far West and Orana
and the Hunter Valley (excluding Newcastle) regions. Increases in Prison Officers,
Commissioned Corrective Services Officers and Clerical and Administrative Workers
account for almost half of the increase in these regions (144 FTE).
The increase of 725 FTE in the Industry cluster primarily relates to increases in the
Department of Industry (110 FTE), Local Land Services (179 FTE) and the TAFE
Commission (402 FTE). Increases occurred in a range of occupations across the
cluster. The largest increase, of 288 FTE, occurred in Contract, Program and Project
The Finance, Services and Innovation cluster increased by 335 FTE. Service NSW
contributed 244 FTE to this increase, with an additional 11 service centres opening
1Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, ‘Table 16. Labour force
status by Labour market region (ASGS) and Sex’, cat. no. 6291.0.55.001, viewed 18 October 2018, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.001Sep%202018?OpenDocument