330,500 public servants are now working for the State - the highest such figure since the economic crisis of 2008, according to the latest Public Service Performance Report for 2018.

In 2008 prior to the recession, staff numbers were at around 318,000 but subsequently dropped below 290,000 amid cutbacks and austerity policies.

However, since 2013, the Government workforce has climbed back up to 330,500, with a gross pay and pensions bill totalling €21bn last year.

The Government spent €63bn on public services in 2018.

Of the €57.1bn that went on gross current expenditure, 36% went to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, 27% to Health, 17% to Education and Skills, 4% to Justice, 3% to Housing, Planning and Local Government, with 13% accounted for by other smaller categories.

On the capital side, gross expenditure totalled €6bn.

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government accounted for 30% of that, with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport receiving 22%.

13% of capital spending went to the Department of Education and Skills, 9% to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, a further 9% to the Department of Health, and 18% to other categories.

The health service accounts for almost 36% of public service workers, with 117,857 employees.

Second is education, with 106,948 employed in this sector.

The third largest category is the civil service, with 38,455 workers.

Local authorities employ 28,342 employees, while the justice sector accounts for 14,395 (of whom 14,032 are gardaí).

13,707 public servants work for non-commercial state agencies, 9,403 in the defence sector, and 1,468 in a group entitled "Civil Service Industrial".

The report notes that the Irish population has now topped 4.8 million, increasing demand for services.

591,200 people receive Department of Social Protection pension payments each week.

Over 930,000 students are in primary and post-primary education, while almost 106,000 children are in early childhood care and education programmes.

Over half a million people are covered by GP visit cards, while over 333,000 receive weekly illness, disability and carer's benefit payments.

23,300 are receiving funding for long-term residential care under the Nursing Home Support Scheme.

The report highlights efforts made to prepare for Brexit, including infrastructure planning at Dublin Airport, Dublin Port and Rosslare Port, as well as the hiring of over 1,077 customs staff.

It also notes that 860,000 passports were issued last year, up 10% on 2017, and the highest number ever in a single year.