The overall job prospects and relative pay conditions of public sector workers have improved considerably since the late 1990s, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
The study shows that public sector employees have enjoyed larger average salary increases than their private sector counterparts for the past four consecutive years – opening up a 17% pay gap in favour of the public sector, while holding on to a better pension deal.
John Philpott, CIPD chief economist, said the figures indicate that the perception that public sector workers and poorly paid and deserve special attention needs some revision.
“If one compares the median worker in both the private and public sectors for instance, the public sector worker is better off by £12 a week,” he said.
“It is only among the top 25% of earners where the private sector outperforms their public sector – a case of the fat cats enabling the private sector to be top dog.”
CIPD estimates suggest that official figures to be released today (Friday 15 July) will show that about 75,000 people were added to the public sector payroll in the year to this spring.
In total more than 650,000 new public sector jobs have been created since the late 1990s. And since 2001 the public sector has been by far the main driver of employment growth in the UK.
The rise in public sector jobs comes despite the government’s drive to improve public sector efficiency, which is serving to reallocate jobs from back office to front-line delivery rather than cutting overall job numbers.
But Philpott said the CIPD does not offer support to critics who deride the public sector as being over-manned, overpaid and unproductive.
“More public sector jobs and higher pay have been needed to improve public service provision,” he said.