More than half a million new jobs have been created in the public sector since the Labour Party came to power.
Large increases in employment in the NHS and education sector have boosted worker numbers in the public sector, official figures reveal.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said sector employment jumped by 146,000 in the year to March 2004, against a 132,000 rise a year earlier.
The NHS took on 68,000 more workers and education a further 44,000. The two now make up 50% of public sector employment compared with 42% in 1991.
The number of public sector workers has risen each year since 1998. But the ONS added that while employment in the sector is now 11% higher than in 1998 – after adding a total of 583,000 jobs, it still remains below the levels of employment seen in 1991 and 1992.
John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said:, “While it is likely that ministers will claim that today’s figures show that most new public sector jobs will help improve service delivery, there is still ample scope for opposition politicians to argue that many of the new jobs represent bureaucrats rather than frontline workers.
“In making further improvements to the statistics the ONS should endeavour to provide a clearer occupational breakdown of public sector workers. This would aid assessment of the degree to which expansion of public sector employment is helping to improve service quality and offering value for money to taxpayers,” he added.