Growth in public sector jobs is lowest since 1999

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The Independent Online

Public sector employment posted its smallest rise for more than six years at the end of last year, according to official figures that provide fresh evidence the brakes are being applied to the government spending.

The number of workers in the civil service and central and local government increased by 62,000 in the fourth quarter of 2005 compared with same period in 2004. The total public job count stands at 5.88 million.

The figures showed the weakest annual rise since the second quarter of 1999 and almost a third of the 161,000 that the public sector added to its payrolls in the final quarter of 2003.

It means the annual pace of growth has declined from 1.6 per cent to 1.1 per cent over the course of the year. However, employment is still more than 10 per cent higher than five years ago when the massive investments into health and education began.

John Philpott, the chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the growth would slow further as job cuts at NHS trusts came through. The Royal College of Nursing said 4,300 job losses had been announced this year. The biggest cut is at the North Staffordshire NHS Trust, which plans to axe 1,031 staff in the face of a £30m deficit.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the biggest increases in job numbers were in health and social work and education. They also rose in the police service and public administration.

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