Local government employees (1.7 million people including subsidised jobs, compared with 2.5 million central government employees) account for around a third of civil service jobs in France. Their increase since the beginning of the 1980s accounts for more than half of the increase in total civil service staffing levels and more than two-thirds of growth total central government and local government employment. The increase has not been identical at the different levels of local government (municipalities and inter-communal authorities, départements, and regions).

There is no clear correlation between the transfer of powers and the growth in the workforce. The growth in the headcount of municipalities and inter-communal authorities accounts for 78% of the workforce increase between 1983 and 2005 and yet these authorities were not concerned by the different transfers of powers. The steep rise in inter-communal authorities' staffing levels in the past 10 years has not, moreover, been accompanied by a simultaneous fall in the number of municipal employees. There is no directly established correlation between transfers of powers and the rise in regional and departmental staffing levels.

Even if their functions largely coincide, the two categories of civil servant are subject to quite distinct logics in terms of human resources administration. The central government civil service is more concerned with conceptual tasks, whereas the local government civil service is focussed on operational tasks. The production functions and the evolution of the two civil service categories are therefore different.

This situation no doubt explains most of the disparities in the geographical distribution of the two civil service categories. The distribution of central government civil servants reflects France's administrative organisation, being concentrated in the regional prefectures and in the Ile de France (Paris region). Local government civil servants are not uniformly distributed across the territory and are spread out in homogeneous regional blocks, notably in the south of the country. This doubtless has its source in the historically different patterns of administration and practices in France.

At the local level, local government administrative staffing ratios in the départements have increased sharply, with no apparent correlation with trends observed in the central government civil service.

Trésor-Economics No. 37