Public employment and management

Public Employment: Key Figures


Governments produce services and goods through their own employees or through the use of private and non-profit companies and organisations. Government employment is thus a core determinant of public sector costs, quality and productivity. OECD data on public employment shows the size of government workforces across countries, the division of government workforces across levels of government, and production costs in general government.


Employment in general government

The proportion of the labour force working for the government is one indication of how public services are delivered in a country and is an important factor determining the costs of service delivery. In countries where a large proportion of the labour force works for government, government employment could also crowd out private sector employment

Employment in General Government as a Percentage of the Labour Force (2000 and 2008)


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Employment across levels of government

The share of government staff employed at sub-central levels is an indicator of the level of decentralisation of public administrations. In general, larger shares of government employees at the sub-central level indicate that more responsibilities are delegated to regional and local governments. In 2008, the majority of OECD member countries had more employees at the sub-central level than at the central level of government. Federal states (with the exception of the Russian Federation) employ less than one-third of all government employees at the central level, while unitary states tend to have a much larger variance in the proportion of government employees at the central level of government


Distribution of general government employment between the central and sub-central levels of government (2008)


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Production costs in general government

Decisions on the amount and type of goods and services to produce, as well as on how best to produce them, are often political in nature and based on a country’s social and cultural context. While some governments choose to outsource a large portion of the production of goods and services to non-governmental or private entities, others decide to produce the goods and services themselves. In 2008, the proportion of the economy devoted to producing government services and goods represents on average almost a quarter of GDP, varying significantly among OECD member countries

Production Costs as a Percentage of GDP (2009)


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Further Reading