Up to 4,000 public sector jobs have been lost in Northern Ireland over the past year, according to analysis from accountancy firm PwC.
The public sector has cut jobs more quickly and more deeply than expected, says PwC – but it warns that the full pain of job losses has yet to be felt in Northern Ireland.
Across the UK, 240,000 fewer people worked in the public sector in the second quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year.
There have been large job losses in English local government, central government, particularly in the defence and education sectors, and in public corporations, including the BBC and the Post Office.
Many more jobs have been lost in the public sector over the past year than have been created in the private sector. Where there has been private sector job creation, this has focused on part-time rather than full-time posts, says PwC.
However, if the analysis is spread over a longer period – from December 2009 to June this year – the picture is very different. Over that period, 290,000 public sector jobs were lost, while 600,000 private sectors jobs were created.
In Northern Ireland, the public sector staffing reduction represents 1.8% of those employed a year ago. PwC expects the rate of job losses here to accelerate over the next year. The firm warns that with little economic growth emerging, there is a significant chance of a double dip recession.
Dr Esmond Birnie, PwC’s chief economist in Northern Ireland, explained: “In percentage terms, Northern Ireland has experienced the lowest level of public sector job losses among the 12 UK regions, well below the North East and South West of England where the percentage fall has been between 5 to 6%.”