Employed persons

NSW employed persons

10.4% of all NSW employed persons are NSW public sector employees

-0.1pp vs 2020

Increase in NSW public sector

+4.3% census headcount, up by 17,783 from 2020

Increase in NSW employed persons

+5.4%

Note: ‘pp’ stands for percentage points.

Size of the NSW public sector workforce

The NSW public sector is the largest employer in Australia. Figure 2.1 and Table 2.1 show that in 2021 the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees in the census period increased by 3.4% (+11,682) compared to 2020, and the census headcount increased by 4.3% (+17,783). This is the largest increase since the launch of the Workforce Profile collection.

Table 2.1: Public sector census headcount, census period FTE, 2012–21

Year Census headcount Change from previous year (%) Census period FTE Change from previous year (%)
2012 401,703 1.8 332,555 0.7
2013 399,243 -0.6 329,336 -1.0
2014 396,036 -0.8 328,111 -0.4
2015 394,194 -0.5 326,765 -0.4
2016 393,442 -0.2 326,706 0.0
2017 393,333 0.0 325,917 -0.2
2018 396,243 0.7 329,005 0.9
2019 407,999 3.0 337,787 2.7
2020 413,567 1.4 348,508 3.2
2021 431,350 4.3 360,190 3.4

Figure 2.2 shows that the NSW public sector has continued to grow since 2018. While the NSW public sector workforce grew by 4.3% in 2021, the increase in the broader NSW workforce was larger. NSW employed persons increased by 5.4% in 2021, following the 4.7% contraction in 2020. The proportion of NSW employed persons who worked for the NSW public sector decreased 0.1pp from 2020 to 10.4% in 2021 (see Figure 2.3).

Composition of the NSW public sector workforce

While headcount is an important measure of the size of the workforce, FTE provides a better indication of the level of resources.

In 2021, the census period FTE increased by 11,682 and the census headcount rose by 17,783. The key contributors to this increase in FTE were the NSW Health Service (4,600), the Public Service (2,853) and Other Crown services (1,426).

Table 2.2: Composition of the public sector by service, census period FTE, 2020–21

Service 2020 2021 Change Change (%)
Public Service 66,631 69,484 2,853 4.3
NSW Health Service 122,921 127,521 4,600 3.7
NSW Police Force 20,613 21,041 427 2.1
Teaching Service 70,261 71,415 1,154 1.6
Transport Service 13,645 14,562 917 6.7
Other Crown services 45,310 46,737 1,426 3.1
Total government sector 339,382 352,780 11,377 3.9
State owned corporations 8,129 8,321 192 2.4
External to government sector  997 1,110 113 11.4
Total public sector 348,508 360,190 11,682 3.4

Table 2.2 shows that all services experienced increases in census period FTE from 2020 to 2021. 

The increase in the NSW Health Service of 4,600 FTE (+3.7%) included an additional 1,839 (+3.7%) FTE Nurses and 1,163 (+7.3%) FTE Clerical and Administrative Workers. These increases reflect the additional resources required to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Public Service grew by 2,853 FTE (+4.3%) in 2021. The main contribution to this growth was the Customer Service cluster, which grew by 1,005 FTE (+12.2%). The largest increases in the cluster were in Service NSW (+664 FTE or 22.3%) and Digital NSW (+108 FTE or 24.1%). These increases reflect the role of the Service NSW app and call centre in the management of the pandemic. The Planning, Industry and Environment cluster increased by 993 FTE (+10.5%), with most of the increase in the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (+792 FTE or 9.6%). This increase largely relates to additional resourcing required for projects and programs aligned with the NSW economic and social recovery plan, including planning reform initiatives and establishing new functional areas.

The increase in Other Crown services (+1,426 FTE or +3.1%) was mainly due to the increase in School Administrative and Support Workers (+1,066 FTE or 5.1%). The Teaching Service also grew, by 1,154 FTE (+1.6%). Increases in the Teaching Service and School Administrative and Support Workers were largely due to engaging additional teachers under the COVID Intensive Learning Support Program, recruiting new business managers to support schools, and growth in Training Services NSW.

The largest proportional increase in the government sector occurred in the Transport Service, which grew 6.7%, compared to 2020. This was due to the effect of major transport infrastructure projects on NSW employment. Transport for NSW had an FTE increase of 779 (+7.9%) and Sydney Metro was up 274 (+60.7%). 

All clusters in the public sector recorded growth in 2021 (see Table 2.3). The Health, Education and Transport clusters account for 70% of the increase. The Premier and Cabinet cluster FTE also rose (+585 or 15.2%), mostly due to the establishment of Investment NSW (399). 

Table 2.3: Composition of the public sector by cluster, census period FTE, 2020–212

Cluster 2020 2021 Change Change (%)
Customer Service 8,210 9,216 1,005 12.2
Education 110,507 112,929 2,421 2.2
Health 124,086 128,738 4,652 3.7
Planning, Industry and Environment  16,103 17,222 1,118 6.9
Premier and Cabinet 3,835 4,420 585 15.2
Regional NSW 4,428 4,646 219 4.9
Stronger Communities 52,342 52,782 440 0.8
Transport 26,454 27,616 1,162 4.4
Treasury 2,293 2,312 19 0.8
Total public sector 348,508 360,190 11,682 3.4

 

 

Notes

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics (August 2021) ‘Table 1: RM1 - Labour force status by age, labour market region (ASGS) and sex, October 1998 onwards’ [time series spreadsheet], Labour force status, accessed 28 September 2021. 

Other has been excluded from the clusters list but included in the public sector totals.