8000 public service jobs lost in a year

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Almost 8000 positions have been shed from the federal public service in the past year, an average of more than 20 a day. 

The Abbott government has used the data to show that more than half of the job losses from the bureaucracy's permanent workforce had come from natural attrition – staff leaving voluntarily – rather than redundancies.

The Australian Public Service headcount, including non-ongoing staff, was 159,126 on June 30, 2014, dropping below 160,000 for the first time since 2008.

The vast majority of the positions abolished during 2013-14 were full-time permanent jobs.

Public Service Minister Eric Abetz said 5954 of the 11,131 ongoing staff who had left their jobs, or more than half, departed via natural attrition, which included resignations and age retirements.


He said this demonstrated the government's policy was moderate and reasonable, as opposed to the scare campaign promoted by Labor.

"The Australian Public Service will reduce by 16,500 staff across the four years to 2016-17," Senator Abetz said.

"This figure includes the loss of 14,500 jobs as a result of decisions taken by the Labor government.

"The government is committed to a sustainable public service that continues to deliver for the Australian people – a public service that provides viable front-line services and preserves the skills required to meet the government's priorities and deliver better value for each taxpayer dollar."

The number of retrenchments during 2013-14 was greater than the number of resignations for the first time since 1998-99.

Retrenchments increased from 27.8 to 41.5 per cent of all separations, from 2680 to 4622, while resignations fell from 46.3 per cent of all separations in 2012-13 to 36.2 per cent in 2013-14.

Age retirements accounted for 17.3 per cent of all separations, a decrease in proportional terms from last year's 19.8 per cent. The number of terminations decreased from 182 (or 1.9 per cent) to 156 (1.4 per cent).

Natural attrition includes resignations and age retirements and excludes all other separation types, including retrenchments, invalidity retirement, deaths and termination of appointment.

The federal public service's presence in Canberra had reduced by 3687 in the year to June and was now 61,666.

As reported on Tuesday, Canberra was on track to absorb about 6500 of the public service's reduction of 16,500 staff, or a proportion of 40 per cent. 

Graduate positions in the APS across Australia fell by 12.9 per cent. 

Increasing across most of the public service was the length of service at a particular level.

The median length at level for all ongoing employees was 5.5 years at June 2014, up from 4.9 years at June 2013. Five years ago the median was 3.2 years for all ongoing employees.

For the senior executive ranks the median length at a certain level was 5.5 years at June 2014, up from 5 years in 2013.

For executive level employees it was 5.8 years, up from 5.2 years in 2013.

Five years ago the median length at level for SES and ELs was 3.6 years for both of these classification groups.

The representation of employees from a non-English speaking background rose from 15.8 per cent to 15.9 per cent, the proportion of indigenous Australians in the public service increased slightly from 2.26 per cent to 2.32 per cent.

Senator Abetz said federal public servants were also getting older with a higher representation of workers in the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups when compared to ABS labour force data.

 Correction: An earlier version of this story wrongly said the figures came from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.