Fewer jobs for life

OECD Observer

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Many governments have made deliberate efforts to cut back on their civil service employment in recent years, both to contain public expenditure and also as part of wider regulatory reforms. Public servant jobs in central, regional and local administrations have decreased, sometimes sharply, in several countries, but have risen markedly in a few others, including Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain. Staffing has risen at regional or local levels in some countries, such as Japan and the US.

Overall, the ratio of public employees to the total labour force has declined in the past decade, with a few exceptions. The relative rise in importance of private sector jobs helps explain some of this trend. Actual downsizing policies have also played a role, whether through hiring freezes and natural attrition (retirements, etc) or active cutbacks of the kind introduced in transition countries like Poland and Hungary, though also in Australia, Canada and Finland, among others.

Staff reductions have also resulted from privatisation of some government functions. In Finland, six major public enterprises changed status in 1989-90, resulting in a 10% fall in total public employment. Though the Dutch average is not in the source, increases of 1.6%, 3.3%, 1.3% and 2.5% are recorded for each year from 1996/1997 to 1999/2000.

©OECD Observer No 252/253, November 2005

Economic data

GDP growth: -9.8% Q2/Q1 2020 2020
Consumer price inflation: 1.3% Sep 2020 annual
Trade (G20): -17.7% exp, -16.7% imp, Q2/Q1 2020
Unemployment: 7.3% Sep 2020
Last update: 10 Nov 2020

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