The figure is set to fall further once temporary staff laid off after the completion of the census are taken into account.
There were 575,600 people employed in the public sector in Scotland in the first quarter of this year, down from 587,200 in the same quarter last year.
The latest Public Sector Employment in Scotland statistics show a decrease of 2%, excluding public-sector financial institutions, since the start of the 2010 financial year.
However, this does not include the 6,300 temporary field staff employed by the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) in the first quarter of this year to carry out the 2011 census.
Statisticians said the number of temporary staff employed by GROS will "decrease substantially" in the second quarter.
Had the census not taken place this year, the fall in public-sector employment would have been over 3%.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said this stands against a 52,000 increase in the level of private-sector employment over the year.
He added: "In this constrained financial climate, the Scottish Government is committed to reforming public services as well as improving performance and keeping a focus on the outcomes that matter to us all.
"We are making progress by working with partners across the public sector.
"Our no-compulsory redundancies agreement, for staff under the control of ministers, has been extended for a further year and we are committed to protecting employment where we can to maintain and support capacity in the economy.
"The simplification programme is on track to exceed our target of reducing the number of public bodies by 25%.
"The number has already reduced from a baseline of 199 to 147, and on present plans will reduce further to 115 or fewer.
"This will deliver estimated savings of around 125 million by 2013 and estimated recurring savings of around 39 million per annum thereafter.
"With the Scottish Budget facing a 1.3 billion reduction in 2011-12, due to cuts from Westminster, all public bodies will have to become more efficient and innovative in the way they are run.
"The Christie Commission Report, due to be published tomorrow, can help to provide a clearer focus on how we can deliver the essential services that we need while getting the best value for money."
The public sector, excluding public-sector financial institutions, currently accounts for 23.3% of all employment in Scotland, a decrease of
0.9% from last year.