Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly


by Sunny Hundal    
9:30 am - September 14th 2010

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Editor of the Spectator and News of the World columnist Fraser Nelson says:

For the public sector, there has been NO recession. Unpublished figures, seen by yours truly, show it has added 194,000 more jobs since the crash. Meanwhile, the rest of the economy has lost 884,000 jobs.

It’s convenient that Nelson has seen figures no one else has, to help make the case that, “government spending has become a menace in Britain, a ravenous machine weighing us all down.”

But where do these figures come from?

The fact-checking site FullFact.org yesterday looked through some published figures, and found a point of agreement. The number of public sector workers had indeed increased.

BUT… the figures:

…make use of figures which include those most unlikely of public servants; bankers.

As the Government bought up the banks to save them from oblivion, staff from Northern Rock, then Bradford & Bingley, and finally the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds were included in the public sector employment totals.

So could Fraser Nelson confirm whether he is stripping out bankers or not?

Otherwise he would be making the case for ‘trimming the fat’ by using a wholly misleading way of measuring how public sector employment has ‘risen’.

FullFact add:

In the third quarter of 2008 there were 10,700 public sector workers employed in banking. By the end of the fourth quarter this number had hit 238,800.

In other words, take Fraser Nelson with a huge bucket of salt.

Which wouldn’t be the first time either.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Good points – and Full Fact is doing an admirable job.

The right seem to have a blind spot when comparing like with like on public sector pay too, as we reported last year in Liberal Conspiracy:

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2009/12/05/the-public-sector-rich-list/

That must be about the most dishonest abuse of statistics I’ve ever seen. That would be one thing if we were just talking about a bit of abstract political point-scoring, but these figures are being used quite deliberately to create the impression that the public sector has become ‘bloated’ and now needs to accept its share of pain in the form of job losses. In other words, this twunt is playing with people’s lives here.

I wonder if if he’s double-counting too – i.e. if that figure of 884,000 private sector jobs lost includes banking jobs lost *to the public sector*? Seems more than likely.

And the icing on the cake: the Tories wholeheartedly supported the very boom in public sector jobs – via the bank bailout – that Fraser now finds so shocking.

Of course public sector jobs are going to increase when unemployment rises, For a start it requires increased administration to process the increased number of claimants, a lesson that Thatcher learned.
There is also an increased demand for health and educational services, yes unemployment creates mental health problem, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and child abuse. And, of course, bankrupcy and repossessions make large demands on the civil legal system while the increase in crime makes even more demamd on the criminal justice system.
Nice when you see that trickle-down can really work.

“For the public sector, there has been NO recession. Unpublished figures, seen by yours truly, show it has added 194,000 more jobs since the crash. Meanwhile, the rest of the economy has lost 884,000 jobs.”

Did someone say, uh, politics of envy?

Hang on. The government does not run these banks as an arm of government, and other than Northern Rock does no more than guarantee their losses. So why the hell are their employees listed as public servants? Something there that needs explaining.

“So why the hell are their employees listed as public servants? ”

Because if you do that, you get the conclusion you wish for, and can then issue a dishonest press release.

Planeshift,

I am stumped as to who would want to promote the number of people working for government in 2009 though?

I was assuming this actually indicates that the figures are not themselves that useful – I would personally like to see the figures of how many people are paid directly by government, rather than incorporating say TfL or Royal Mail (but wierdly, not Universities which are also mainly government funded…), where all employment by government is directly linked to declared subsidies and payments. But someone made a decision to maximise the figures for some reason. Eeh, the joys of statistics.

“I am stumped as to who would want to promote the number of people working for government in 2009 though?”

Well gee…I’m stumped. I can’t think of any organisation that wants to promote the view that government is too big, bureaucratic and bloated.

9. Chaise Guevara

“Well gee…I’m stumped. I can’t think of any organisation that wants to promote the view that government is too big, bureaucratic and bloated.”

LOL.

6/7 – the National Audit Office decides whether expenditure and jobs should be classed as “public sector” or “private sector”. If someone is working directly for a company or agency majority-owned or controlled by the state, they’re classed as “public sector”. They’re not classed as “civil servants” (in the same way that NHS hospital doctors aren’t classed as civil servants). This reflects, erm, reality.

So there’s no conspiracy in terms of putting the numbers together. It’d be interesting to know whether Nelson’s article is badly researched or actively dishonest, though.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly http://bit.ly/bXJ2tF

  2. Paul Sagar

    RT @libcon Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly http://bit.ly/bXJ2tF >> the internetism "MEGA LOLZ" was coined for this blog!

  3. Liberal Conspiracy

    Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly http://bit.ly/bb2PIc

  4. Aegir Hallmundur

    Wow. Those figures showing an increase in public sector jobs? It's because RBS and Lloyds are now 'public sector'! http://bit.ly/bb2PIc

  5. Melissa Nicole Harry

    RT @libcon: Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly http://bit.ly/bb2PIc

  6. Kieron Flanagan

    In which Fraser Nelson counts bankers as public servants: RT @libcon: Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly http://bit.ly/bb2PIc

  7. Other TaxPayers Alli

    Has public sector really expanded during the recession? asks @libcon Not exactly http://bit.ly/dzeNTf (Corrected link thanx @theangelremiel)

  8. Nadia

    RT @libcon: Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly http://bit.ly/bb2PIc

  9. diana smith

    I am shocked! could NotW possibly have got facts wrong on public sector expansion H/T OtherTPA http://bit.ly/dzeNTf

  10. Daniel Guilfoyle

    RT @OtherTPA: Has public sector really expanded during the recession? asks @libcon Not exactly http://bit.ly/dzeNTf (Corrected link than …

  11. Natasha Cox

    Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly | another manipulation of the facts by the NotW http://t.co/SHmJuSJ via @libcon

  12. sunny hundal

    Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  13. sunny hundal

    Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  14. Daniel Gray

    RT @sunny_hundal Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  15. Daniel Gray

    RT @sunny_hundal Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  16. Jon Sharman

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  17. Rosanna

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  18. Soho Politico

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  19. Malcolm Evison

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  20. Simon

    Liberal conspiracy report shameful padding out of public sector employment figures with bailed-out bankers http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  21. dont interrupt

    RT @libcon: Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly http://bit.ly/bb2PIc

  22. Ged Robinson

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  23. Jill Hayward

    RT @OtherTPA: Has public sector really expanded during the recession? asks @libcon Not exactly http://bit.ly/dzeNTf (Corrected link than …

  24. Michael Hanley

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  25. Natacha Kennedy

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  26. Job Search Pages

    Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly | Liberal Conspiracy: Unpublished figures, seen by yours truly, s… http://bit.ly/91Kno3

  27. Emrys Schoemaker

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  28. RupertRead

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  29. James Evans

    RT @kieronflanagan: In which Fraser Nelson counts bankers as public servants: RT @libcon: Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly http://bit.ly/bb2PIc

  30. Lilly Hunter

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  31. Chris Nicholson

    RT @sunny_hundal: Tories disingenuously count bankers as public sector employees to argue for 'cutting the fat' http://t.co/klRFkwQ

  32. Jim B

    Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly | Liberal Conspiracy: It's convenient that Nelson has seen figure… http://bit.ly/debNj4

  33. Pete Drake

    Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly | Liberal Conspiracy: Of course public sector jobs are going to i… http://bit.ly/d6R79a

  34. John

    Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly | Liberal Conspiracy: Of course public sector jobs are going to i… http://bit.ly/au4MGx

  35. Nick Watts

    RT @libcon: Has public sector really added jobs? Not exactly http://bit.ly/bb2PIc

  36. Natacha Kennedy

    Awesome piece of journalism from @sunnyhundal. Exposes rightwing bollocks about public sector jobs http://bit.ly/dzeNTf





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