Public sector workers are keeping their jobs and salaries during the pandemic as the numbers show that they earn more than those in the private sector.
Those who work in the public sector earned an average of 7% more in 2019 than those who worked in the private sector, according to the National Statistics Office.
The largest pay gap was in skilled jobs in the smallest firms – with 10 or fewer employees – where public sector workers earned 24% more than their private counterparts.
This comes after the inflation-driven salary increases announced by the government in July – 2.8% for medical professionals and 3.1% for teachers – closed a deeper gap between these “key workers” and those who work in supermarkets or nursing homes.
These taxpayer-funded wage increases are likely to bring the public sector premium back to around 10% before David Cameron's coalition government takes deficit reduction measures.
The destruction of private businesses by the pandemic will therefore exacerbate the disparities between sectors, as those who manage to keep their jobs will pay higher taxes to maintain public sector wage increases.
The graph above shows the percentage difference between public and private sector workers employed in companies / organizations of different sizes. The largest pay gap was found in the “higher skilled” occupations of the smallest firms – with 10 or fewer employees – where public sector workers earned 24 percent more than their private counterparts.
NHS staff in Belfast take part in “Clap for Caregivers”
Dominic Lawson wrote in the Sunday Times that the government is staring at teacher and medical workers' strikes as it tries to curb national debt – which has surged above £ 2 trillion – with a wage freeze.
"There will likely be demands for industrial action from the primary teachers' union under its trusted militant leader Mary Bousted and the British Medical Association." Mr. Lawson wrote.
"The latter will present an even more difficult adversary than usual for a Conservative government that sanctified the NHS for political reasons – and because doctors and nurses came under extreme pressure to save patients from the coronavirus during the height of its infection.
Percentage of public sector wage increases by occupation
School teachers 3.1%
Doctors & Dentists 2.8%
Police officers 2.5%
Armed forces 2%
National Crime Agency 2.5%
Prison officers 2.5%
Senior civil servants 2%
Senior military 2%
“But it's not just the caregivers (who clapped every Thursday during the height of the pandemic) who are making our lives better. A tirelessly helpful waitress, a wonderful cook, a worried bartender in a pub – all of these people make us feel better. Perhaps, given their current situation, we should have a caterer gossip. & # 39;
The main difference is in the pensions granted to the various sectors. Most in the public sector still receive an inflation-proof defined benefit pension – based on salary and time worked for their employer.
In the private sector, however, longer maturities and falling interest rates on government bonds have made it impossible to guarantee such generous pensions.
Former pension minister Baroness Altmann describes public sector workers as "a pension aristocracy – and they don't recognize it".
Pensions are an important part of the ONS work. They found that 89% of public sector workers contributed to a pension in 2019, compared to 75% in the private sector, despite the introduction of automatic enrollment in 2012.
Of all employees in the public sector, 82% were in defined benefit schemes, compared with only 8% of all employees in the private sector.
In the private sector, the majority of employees were either in a defined contribution scheme (21%), in a group pension scheme (21%) or in a National Employment Savings Trust (15%).
Of those without a pension, 11% were paid by the state and 26% by a private company.
A key private sector worker in a Waitrose supermarket in London
In addition to the difference between the public and private sectors in terms of their pensions, the other determining factors were the age of the workers, their gender and their skill level.
Young workers tend to be paid less than older workers and in 2019 the median age of private sector workers was 40, compared to 44 for the public sector.
When it comes to sex, women earn less per hour on average than men – a topic the ONS has covered extensively.
The difference was smaller in the public sector, where men earned 22% more than women, and in the private sector, where men earned 34% more.
The report also found that public sector workers employ more skilled workers than the private sector: 47% of government-paid people are “highly skilled” compared to a quarter of privately-paid people.
The highly qualified employees include scientists, IT engineers, medical professionals, teachers and lawyers.
Meanwhile, low-skilled jobs in the public sector were paid more on average than those in the private sector: £ 13.62 an hour versus £ 11.24.
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