Public sector employment, first quarter 2012 (preliminary data)

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Public sector employment on a seasonally adjusted basis was 3.6 million in the first quarter, up 0.2% from the fourth quarter of 2011.

Employment increased by 6,000 in health and social services institutions and by 3,000 in local general government. These increases were partly offset by small declines in government business enterprises, federal general government and school boards.

The three levels of general government (federal, provincial and territorial, and local) accounted for 38.1% of total public sector employment in the first quarter. Educational institutions represented 29.2%, followed by health and social service institutions (23.9%) and government business enterprises (8.8%).

Public sector employees represented 20.2% of total employment in Canada in the first quarter, unchanged since the third quarter of 2011. This proportion has been slowly declining since its peak (20.6%) in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Total public sector wages and salaries increased 0.9% between the first quarter of 2011 and first quarter of 2012.

Chart 1 
Public sector employment
Chart 1: Public sector employment

Chart description: Public sector employment

CSV version of the chart

Note to readers

The public sector includes all economic entities controlled by government and comprises four major components: the three levels of government (federal, provincial and territorial, and local) and government business enterprises. Each level of government has a general government component comprising ministries; departments; agencies and non-autonomous funds; autonomous funds and organizations; and non-autonomous pension plans. Provincial and territorial government includes universities and colleges as well as health and social service institutions. Local government includes school boards. Government business enterprises are institutional units controlled by government; they operate on an autonomous basis as commercial corporations in the marketplace.

This is the final release of the Public sector employment program. Statistics Canada will continue to produce data on public administration employment through the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours and the Labour Force Survey.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table183-0002 and CANSIM table183-0004.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number1713.

For a more detailed description of how public sector employment is defined and reconciled with other information sources, refer to the document entitled Reconciliation of Public Sector Employment Estimates from Multiple Information Sources by clicking survey number 1713.

Data tables on public sector employment are also available in the National economic accounts module of our website.

For more information, or to order data, contact Client Services (613-951-0767; To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Alain Baril (613-951-4131;, Public Sector Statistics Division.