Several people are assisted to prepare the draft of the 2019 Income in an office of the Tax Agency, in June 2020 in Madrid.Emilio Naranjo / EFE
That the pandemic has pushed the public sector and its workers to the limit is not only said by the organizations that represent them, or by the governments they work for, but also by institutions such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In its latest report,
Government at a Glance 2021
, the body that protects the most powerful economies on the planet recognizes that covid-19 “has highlighted the important role that public employees play in the provision of essential services, keeping citizens healthy, safe and financially supported ”.
The Government agrees with the unions the reform to end the abuse of temporary employment in the Administration
In an extensive 281-page X-ray, the OECD confirms the increase in the weight that public employment has acquired over the last few years in the different countries, and although the study's conclusions are projected on 36 of the territories that make up the organization, some of them direct them directly to Spain. Such as, for example, the fact that the volume of public employees in its institutions is below the average for other countries, and that, at the same time, its workforce is one of the oldest.
The weight of public employment in Spain in 2019 ―the last year that it takes as a reference― was 15.58%, two points above that presented in 2007 ―in which the series begins―; while that of the average of the OECD countries stood at 17.91%. According to the
Statistical Bulletin of the personnel at the service of the Public Administrations
prepared by the Civil Service, in January of that year 2,578,388 public workers were counted (5,106 less than in July 2018). However, since then the public workforce has not stopped growing until reaching the highest figure in history in 2021: 2,710,405 workers.
Despite the growth of the workforce, the Spanish public sector is also characterized by its high temporality, a situation that the Government has promised to correct with the EU to leave it at around 8% (some calculations currently place it at up to 28%). %). For this, the Executive prepares a decree with the largest ordinary offer of public employment in history, 30,455 places, as advanced by EL PAÍS. "Yes, we are going to approve the largest call for public job offers," said the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, who described this event as "magnificent news" and opposed it to the "austerity policies of the PP". "In this pandemic, the need for the public has emerged and that has some people who make it possible," said Díaz, alluding to the officials and personnel at the service of the Administration.
“The size of public employment varies significantly between OECD countries.
While Norway, Sweden and Denmark register the highest levels, reaching close to 30% of total employment;
Japan and Korea have the lowest: 6% and 8%, respectively, ”the report states.
In addition to highlighting these differences, the international cooperation organization concludes that "the proportion of personnel employed at sub-national levels of the Government is an indicator of the level of decentralization of Public Administrations."
In the case of Spain, the autonomous communities and local entities concentrate the majority of public employment: 59.63% and 21.39%;
above that collected by the State (18.98%).
The great challenge of public employees
Despite the fact that the size of Spanish public employment is smaller in the international context, another of the peculiarities reflected in the OECD report is that, unlike what has happened in the rest of the countries during the last decade, employment public has grown in greater proportion than the total. Only the labor balance of 10 of the 36 countries that make up the union presents this imbalance, and among them Spain obtains the highest difference: 1.24 percentage points, ahead of Mexico (0.94) and Luxembourg (0.88) .
But perhaps the greatest statistical deviation on Spain that the OECD study reflects, and which endorses the different analyzes that have been carried out in recent years by trade union organizations, is that which has to do with the aging of the staff of public employees. Despite the fact that between 2015 and 2020 the number of workers aged 55 or over has gone from representing 25% to 26% in the entire OECD, in Spain these figures are much more voluminous: in the last five years, to contemplate something more than a third of its workforce (35%) has approached practically half of the total count (46%). It is the highest growth experienced by a country in this period (11 percentage points more), according to the study, and threatens to reach the veteran record still held by Italy (47%). On the opposite side,countries such as Australia, Hungary, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg or Turkey present rates below 20% for the most veteran workers.
The pandemic leaves more public workers than ever, but with more precarious jobs
According to data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) for the first quarter of 2021, the age group with the highest number of public employees in Spain was between 55 and 59 years old, with 566,700 workers.
However, extending that range between 45 and 64 years of age, the volume shot up to 1,472,000 employees, representing 43.3% of the total workforce.
At the other extreme, only 1.8% are under 25 years of age.
The problem with this aging lies in the fact that within a decade most of the most veteran employees will have retired, creating a vacuum in the Administrations. The need to incorporate young profiles and adapt work systems to new dynamics and digital tools is the biggest challenge facing the public sector in the coming years.
Regarding the distinction by sex, the OECD report establishes that in 2019 women mainly held public positions (58%), a phenomenon that the organization justifies by the existing feminization of sectors such as health or education.
According to the INE, in Spain there is also a predominance of the female gender within the public workforce: 57.7% to 42.3%;
in the same way, where these differences are most acute is both in the health sector (72.5%) and the education sector (66.1%).
Defense, the ministry with the largest staff
The Statistical Bulletin of the personnel at the service of the Public Administrations is a powerful source of information to know the degree of aging of the staff of the central Administration (of the regional and local ones it does not offer that level of detail). Thus, for example, the latest edition of the bulletin, published last January and referring to 2020, indicated that 20% of the employees at the service of the different ministries were over 60 years old. If the look is broadened to the entire group over 50 years of age (the data are offered in age groups for decades), the percentage rises to almost 64%. Defense is the department with the highest percentage of people aged 60 or over (33.3%, that is, one in three workers) while Equality is at the opposite extreme, with only 8% in their sixties.
The average age is still higher among the autonomous bodies dependent on the central administration, since 22.1% of their workers are over 60 years old and almost three out of four (73.1% exactly) have reached half a century of life. Once again, it is a body attached to Defense, the Social Institute of the Armed Forces, which has the most experienced staff: almost half of its 264 employees (47%) are 60 years of age or older.
The third leg of the central administration, that of the state agencies, is also the one with the youngest staff: 44.8% of its workers are at least 50 years old and that percentage drops to 14% among those in their sixties. Two agencies of the Ministry of Transport set the upper and lower limits: 32.3% of workers aged 60 or over work at the State Railway Safety Agency; while in the State Air Safety Agency this group only represents 9.4%. / JLA