09 December 2020

The Public Service Commissioner, Peter Hughes, has today published the 2020 ‘Workforce Data’ and the 2019/20 expenditure on contractors and consultants.

The Workforce Data provides a snapshot of trends in the Public Service and includes staff numbers, age, gender, ethnicity, occupation, salaries, sick leave and gender pay gaps. The information is collected from staff payroll data in all 36 Public Service departments at 30 June. Agencies use the data to help address workforce pressure points and issues.

Workforce Data

Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission has collected Workforce Data since 2000.

Mr Hughes said this year’s data reflects the Public Service’s need to respond to an increase in demand for services, unforeseen events and new priorities. Implementing the Government’s COVID-19 response and recovery effort was a particular challenge for the Public Service.

Highlights from the 2020 data:

  • Generational shift: The average age in the Public Service is now 44.2 years, after peaking at 44.8 years in 2015/16. Public servants under the age of 35 now make up 29% of the workforce, compared with 24% in 2012.
  • More women leaders: The number of women in senior management roles continues to increase, now at 53.2% ­ up from 49.6% last year. Women account for 50% of Public Service chief executives. This is up from 43% in 2018 and 30% in 2014.
  • Fairer pay for women: The gender pay gap in the Public Service (at 30 June 2020) is now 9.6%, the lowest since measurement began in 2000.
  • Focus on ethnic pay gaps: Ethnic pay gaps are generally moving in the right direction. The Māori pay gap has fallen from 9.9% in 2019 to 9.3% in 2020. The Pacific pay gap has fallen from 20.1% to 19.5%.
  • Investing in the Public Service: The number of full-time equivalent employees in the Public Service increased by 4,521 (8.6%) to 57,149 in the last year. Key drivers of this growth were an increase in investment to implement government priorities, the COVID-19 pandemic, strong population growth (up 460,000 between the 2013 and 2018 Census) and responding to other unexpected events, including two Royal Commissions of Inquiry and the MBOVIS biosecurity incursion.
  • Remuneration: The average annual salary in the Public Service in 2020 was $84,500, up from $81,300 last year.

“We have more women in leadership roles than ever before and the gender pay gap continues to close,” said Mr Hughes.

“We’ve done well to close the gender pay gap and our focus now is to do the same with the ethnic pay gap.

“The Public Service must reflect the communities it serves. We need a more diverse and inclusive Public Service ­ one capable of meeting the needs of New Zealand’s multicultural society. We have made some progress, but we need to go harder and faster.”

The Public Service has needed to respond to an increase in demand for services, unforeseen events and new priorities. Helping New Zealanders who lost their jobs or incomes, including the people impacted by COVID-19, resulted in an additional 1060 frontline Ministry of Social Development staff. A further 534 staff were required by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for border intelligence, compliance and investigations and the Ministry of Primary Industries needed 328 extra staff to help tackle the MBOVIS biosecurity incursion. More investment to implement a more holistic service for children at risk resulted in 609 new staff at Oranga Tamariki, mostly social workers and support roles in youth justice.

“The Public Service is not a static entity. The design, operation and performance of the Public Service develops over time to address new priorities and a constantly changing society,” said Mr Hughes.

The latest contractors and consultants’ data shows the operating expenditure on contractors and consultants as a percentage of spending on the public service workforce is 11.7%, down from 13.4% in 2017/18 and 12.8% 2018/19.

The Commission measures operating expenditure on contractors and consultants as a share of total Public Service workforce expenditure. In dollar figures, total operating expenditure was $628.4 million. This compares with $616.5 million in 2018/19. Without one-off COVID-19 related projects, operating expenditure on contractors and consultants is levelling off, despite the growing demand for services as a result of population growth and new priorities.

While many agencies have managed to reduce their reliance on contractors and consultants, the impact of COVID-19 and one-off capital projects, including the building of new schools, has contributed to a 6% increase in total expenditure. There has been a similar increase in the size of the Public Service workforce.

It is still unknown how the Government’s response and recovery to COVID-19 will fully impact spending on contractors and consultants over the next 12-18 months.

“COVID-19 has obviously contributed to an increase in demand for services and that will continue in the next 12 months,” said Mr Hughes.

“We don’t want to put a lid on legitimate contractor and consultant expenditure. It’s about striking the right balance between the number of fulltime public servants and the number of contractors.”


Media queries: grahame.armstrong@publicservice.govt.nz.