Reduction in central government jobs continues more slowly over past year

The so-called Superministry in Central Tallinn.
The so-called Superministry in Central Tallinn. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The number of central government jobs, which has seen a sharp decrease in Estonia since 2015, continued to decline over the past year as well, albeit at a slower pace.

In the period from 1 June 2017 to 1 June 2018, the number of employees continued to decrease. Employee numbers declined by 162, which is significantly less than during the two preceding years, it appears from a memorandum to a Cabinet meeting prepared by Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi.

In the period from 2015 to 2016, the number of employees declined by 1,712, outstripping the goal of 750. From 2016-2017, the number of central government employees declined by 576, largely as a result of the need to find internal sources for wage increases and the failure to find competent employees in some fields.

During the reporting period that ended this June, fewer major reorganisations took place than previously, and the ones registered were mainly reorganisations within institutions. The biggest factor behind the reduction in the number of employees was the ending of the operations of county governments as of 1 January 2018, which reduced the number of central government employees by approximately 160.

Other major reductions registered included a cut by 24 employees at Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech, formerly TTÜ), a cut by 29 jobs at prisons, which was the result of difficulty finding employees, as well a reduction of 32 jobs at ERR, 35 jobs at the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (MTA) and 34 jobs at the Ministry of Finance.

The biggest increase took place in the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), where 82 jobs were added, including those of active duty personnel. The creation of the Geological Survey of Estonia added 36 jobs, and another 20 jobs were added at Enterprise Estonia, 77 at the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa), 88 at Tartu University Hospital (TÜK) and 21 at North Estonia Medical Center (PERH). 

In the three years from 2015 to 2018, the number of central government employees has decreased by roughly 2,450, translated into full-time workers, which is consistent with the reduction in the size of the working-age population. In order for the reduction to be consistent with the change in the working age population, the central government should employ approximately 750 fewer employees per year.

The current trend, according to Mäggi, is causing concern, as the decline in the number of workers has significantly decelerated and the number of jobs increased at about 60 institutions over the past year.

"If this trend continues, it is possible that we will see an increase in the number of employees next year instead, and the state will not be able to stick to its goal of keeping the number of government sector employees at under 12% of the working-age population," Mäggi said in the memorandum.

In a breakdown by region, the number of employees increased by 12 outside of Tallinn and decreased by 230 within the capital city during the period from June 2017 to June 2018. Mäggi described this as very positive, as institutions must become more efficient, while the preservation of jobs outside of Tallinn is important as well.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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