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Public Sector Size by Country 2024

Understanding the role of the government in a country's employment picture is critical to understanding its overall economy. And data shows it can vary quite a bit around the world.

The Middle Eastern nation of Oman has the highest percentage of its workforce in the public sector, 78.7%, according to the International Labour Organization. Cuba is the only other nation close to this significant percentage, sitting at 77%. Liberia and Belarus are neck-and-neck for third and fourth place, at 40.3% and 39.3%, respectively. Six out of the top 10 countries for public sector employment are in Europe - Belarus, Norway (32.2%), Hungary (30.4%), Denmark (30.2%), Croatia (29.8%), and Slovakia (27.3%.) Israel also holds a spot in the top 10 with 31.4%. Countries with the highest public sector size are a key sign of governments that take a more active and aggressive role in supporting their economies.

Other countries have a much smaller public sector, with Mali's 2.38% as the world's lowest. Singapore (2.6%) and Bangladesh (3.1%) are nearly as low. Africa holds a disproportionate amount of spots on the bottom ten list, with five of the world's lowest - Mali, Madagascar (4%), Uganda (4.1%), Tanzania (4.6%), and Rwanda (5.9%.) This can, unfortunately, reflect a lack of funds to hire workers or a lack of leadership to organize public projects or services. India's spot at fourth-lowest (3.8%) likely has to do with the country's extremely large population, though similarly large China employs 28% of its workforce in the public sector. The United States sits below the global average at 13.6% public sector employment as of 2021.

It's vital to note that these measurements can be somewhat imprecise and, in some cases, are only as recent as 2009. However, it can be difficult in some cases to firmly identify whether a person or company is part of the public sector due to the nature of the economy.

Notes:
- All data sourced from the International Labour Organization (ILO) or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) unless noted otherwise.

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Country
% of Total Workforce (ILO)
% of Total Workforce (OECD)
Data Year (ILO)
Data Year (OECD)
Other Estimates
Oman78.7% 2020
Cuba77% 2010
Seychelles44.3% 2020
Russia40.6% 2011
Liberia40.3% 2017
Greenland40.2% 2015
Belarus39.3% 2015
Iraq37.4% 2021
Saudi Arabia35.3%
Bahamas33.7% 2009
Norway32.2%35.6%20202013
Israel31.4%20.7%20212007
Hungary30.4%24.8%20182012
Denmark30.2%32.9%20202011
Croatia29.8% 2020
Sweden29.3%29.9%20202013
Latvia29%31.2%20202013
Australia28.9%20.4%20202012
China28% 2012
Slovakia27.3%18.2%20212013
Lithuania26.9% 2019
Ukraine26.5%26.7%20132012
Finland26.1%27%20192013
Bosnia and Herzegovina25.4% 2021
North Macedonia25.4% 2021
American Samoa25% 2012
Mongolia24.4% 2021
Venezuela24.3% 2020
Jordan24.3% 2019
Estonia23.8%22%20192013
Poland23.6%25.2%20192013
Kazakhstan23.3% 2012
Serbia23.3% 2021
Trinidad and Tobago22.9% 2021
Palestine22.7% 2021
United Kingdom22.5%21.5%20202013
Azerbaijan22.4% 2021
Ireland21.9%19.5%20192014
Botswana21.7% 2019
Canada21.6%22.4%20212013
Greece21.3%14.6%20192012
Egypt21.2% 2020
Belgium21.1%21.5%20192013
Bulgaria21.1% 2019
Slovenia20.9%20.9%20122012
Bhutan20.9% 2021
France20.5%28%20192013
Netherlands19.9%17.3%20192013
Argentina19.3% 2021
Yemen19.3% 2014
Armenia19.3% 2020
Kuwait18.6% 2016
Uzbekistan18.2% 2019
Mauritius18.1% 2019
Saint Lucia18% 2021
Georgia17.7% 2019
Panama17.2% 2021
Barbados17.1% 2019
Kyrgyzstan17% 2021
Uruguay16.9% 2021
Spain16.3%17.9%20192014
San Marino16.2% 2021
Italy16%18.3%20132013
Romania16% 2019
Switzerland16%18%20212014
Turkey15.8%15.9%20212011
Moldova15.8% 2021
South Africa15.6%17.4%20212013
Czech Republic15.4%18%20152013
Malaysia15.1% 2019
Iran14.9% 2020
Sri Lanka14.8% 2019
Portugal14.7%18.4%20142014
Angola14.6% 2014
Albania14.4% 2019
Dominican Republic14% 2021
United States13.6% 20212013
Costa Rica13.2% 2021
Chile13.1%14%20212013
Germany12.9%15.3%20132012
Brazil12.4%12.1%20212013
Mexico12.2%13.8%20212013
Zimbabwe12.1% 2019
Bermuda12.1% 2012
Luxembourg11.7%22.1%20182011
New Zealand11.5%13.4%20112011
Laos11.4% 2017
South Korea10.3%11.6%20142013
United Arab Emirates10.2% 2021
Qatar9.9% 2020
Cameroon9.8% 2014
Paraguay9.8% 2021
Bahrain9.6% 2012
Indonesia9.5% 2019
Thailand9.3% 2019
Philippines9.1% 2019
Haiti9% 2012
Morocco8.7% 2021
Nigeria8.6% 2019
Vietnam8.4% 2021
Afghanistan8.3% 2021
Peru8.1% 2021
Nicaragua8.1% 2012
El Salvador8% 2021
Bolivia7.8% 2021
Japan7.7%12.9%20192014
Pakistan7.3% 2021
Hong Kong7.1% 2014
Liechtenstein7.1% 2015
Ecuador7% 2021
Guinea6.8% 2018
Zambia6.7% 2019
Ethiopia6.6% 2021
Guatemala6.6% 2019
Macau6.5% 2014
Ghana6.4% 2017
Senegal6.3% 2019
Rwanda5.9% 2021
Tanzania4.6% 2020
Uganda4.1% 2017
Madagascar4% 2015
Colombia3.9%10%20212013
Austria3.9%15.2%20202014
India3.8% 2014
Bangladesh3.1% 2017
Singapore2.6% 2021
Mali2.38% 2020
Tajikistan
Montenegro
showing: 129 rows

Which country has the biggest public sector?

Oman has the world's largest public sector. A majority, 78.7%, of that country's workforce are in the public sector.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sources