The number of people working in the public sector rose by 9,000 over the past year, figures have shown.
The public sector accounts for a quarter of the workforce
There have been 52,000 public sector jobs created since devolution in 1999, meaning it employs almost a quarter of the Scottish working population.
The largest increase was in local government, in areas such as education, social work and fire and police staff.
Ministers said the rise reflected a strong economy but the SNP and Tories attacked an increase in executive jobs.
Although the private sector employs about three times as many people, public sector employment is growing at nearly twice the rate.
Since 1999 the number of teachers has risen by nearly 3,000, social workers by nearly 7,000 and jobs in the police service by more than 3,000.
The largest increase has been within local government.
The rise comes against a background of pressure to improve public sector efficiency.
Public sector employees: 577,300 people
Private sector employees: 1,890,700 people
Local government employees: 232,400 people
Scottish Executive employees: 15,500 people
The Scottish Executive said this was not just about cutting numbers, although the number of civil servants in Scotland had fallen by 2% in the past year.
Finance and Public Service Reform Minister Tom McCabe said: "The rise in the number of teachers, police and health service staff over the last few years is evidence that our investment, coupled with a strong economy, is making a real difference.
"Overall employment in Scotland - both private and public sector - is at an all-time high and we have an economy that is stronger and more stable than it has been for generations."
But Scottish National Party spokesman John Swinney claimed the executive was becoming "bloated".
He said: "The Scottish Executive is growing bigger and bigger by the day.
"This is blatant hypocrisy considering the executive is forcing local authorities to make efficiencies but is not making the same level of efficiency itself."
Conservative enterprise spokesman Murdo Fraser said the figures were "truly appalling".
Mr Fraser said: "The executive keep on telling us that economic growth is its top priority, but what it fails to understand is that the staggering growth in the public sector over which it has presided is stifling the ability of private business to generate wealth."