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1368.1 - New South Wales Regional Statistics, 2007  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/12/2007   
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AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS, LABOUR FORCE SURVEY

INTRODUCTION

1 The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is a monthly survey which collects information about the Labour Force Status and other characteristics of the usually resident Australian civilian population aged 15 and over. This survey is conducted under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

2 In this product, data are presented on the size of the labour force, full-time/part-time status, the unemployment and participation rates and industry division.

SCOPE

3 The Labour Force Survey includes all persons aged 15 and over except members of the permanent defence forces, certain diplomatic personnel of overseas government customarily excluded from census and estimated population counts, overseas residents in Australia, and members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia.

4 In the Labour Force Survey, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure each person is associated with only dwelling and hence has only one chance of selection. The coverage rules are a necessary balance between theoretical and operational considerations. Nevertheless, the chance of a person being enumerated at two separate dwellings in the survey is negligible.

REFERENCE PERIOD

5 The reference period for the Survey is the week prior to the interview. As this product presents data by Labour Force Dissemination Regions, results are averaged over a period to minimise volatility in the numbers. See table footnotes for details of the averaging.

Key data items

6 The following key data items are used in this product:

7 Actively looking for work: Includes writing, telephoning or applying in person to an employer for work; answering an advertisement for a job; checking factory notice boards or the touch screens at Centrelink; being registered with Centrelink as a jobseeker; checking or registering with any other employment agency; advertising or tendering for work; and contacting friends and relatives.

8 Civilian population aged 15 years and over: All usual residents of Australia aged 15 years and over except members of the permanent defence forces, certain diplomatic personnel of overseas government customarily excluded from census and estimated population counts, overseas residents in Australia, and members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia.

9 Employed: All persons aged 15 years and over who, during the reference week:

  • worked for one hour or more for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind in a job or business, or on a farm (comprising employees, employers and own account workers); or
  • worked for one hour or more without pay in a family business or on a farm (i.e. contributing family workers); or
  • were employees who had a job but were not at work and were:
    • away from work for less than four weeks up to the end of the reference week;
    • away from work for more than four weeks up to the end of the reference week and received pay for some or all of the four week period to the end of the reference week; or
    • away from work as a standard work or shift arrangement; or
    • on strike or locked out; or
    • on worker's compensation and expected to return to their job; or
  • were employers or own account workers, who had a job, business or farm, but were not at work.

10 Full-time workers: Employed persons who usually worked 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs) and those who, although usually working less than 35 hours a week worked 35 hours or more during the reference week.

11 Industry: An industry is a group of businesses or organisations that perform similar sets of activities in terms of the production of goods and services. Industry is classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0). The industry assigned to an employed person is determined from a description of the kind of business or service carried out at the person's main job.

12 Labour force: For any group, persons who were employed or unemployed, as defined.

13 Labour force status: A classification of the civilian population aged 15 years and over into employed, unemployed or not in the labour force, as defined. The definitions conform closely to the international standard definitions adopted by the International Conferences of Labour Statisticians.

14 Not in labour force: Persons who were not in the categories employed or unemployed as defined.

15 Participation rate: For any group, the labour force expressed as a percentage of the civilian population aged 15 years and over in the same group.

16 Part-time workers: Employed persons who usually work less than 35 hours a week (in all jobs) and either did so during the reference week, or were not at work during the reference week.

17 Unemployed: Persons aged 15 years and over who were not employed during the reference week, and:
  • had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week and were available for work in the reference week; or
  • were waiting to start a new job within four weeks from the end of the reference week and could have started in the reference week if the job had been available then.

18 Unemployment rate: For any group, the number of unemployed persons expressed as a percentage of the labour force in the same group.

GEOGRAPHY

19 The Labour Force Survey was coded according to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) (cat. no. 1216.0). In this product, data are presented for Labour Force Dissemination Regions in NSW for the 2006–07 financial year.

COLLECTION METHODOLOGY

20 The population survey is based on a multi-stage area sample of private dwellings (currently about 30,000 houses, flats, etc.) and a list sample of non-private dwellings (hotels, motel, etc.) and covers about 0.45% of the population of Australia. The information is obtained from the occupants of selected dwellings by specially trained interviewers. The information obtained relates to the week before the interview (i.e. the reference week).

21 The information is collected using computer-assisted interviewing (CAI) whereby responses are recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire on a notebook computer. The CAI method was progressively implemented from October 2003 to August 2004 replacing the 'pen and paper' method previously used.

22 Households selected for the Labour Force Survey are interviewed each month for eight months, with one-eighth of the sample being replaced each month. The first interview is conducted face-to-face. Subsequent interviews are conducted by telephone (if acceptable to the respondent).

ACCURACY

23 Data used in this product are original. Original data have not been adjusted. ABS also release seasonally adjusted and trend labour force data at the state, territory and national level. Seasonal adjustment is a means of removing the estimated effects of normal seasonal variation from the series so that the effects of other influences on the series can be more clearly recognised. Trend data are produced by smoothing seasonally adjusted data, in order to reduce the impact of the irregular component of the seasonally adjusted data. Trend estimates are used to analyse the underlying behaviour of a series over time.

24 Population benchmarks: Labour Force Survey estimates are calculated in such a way as to add up to independent estimates of the civilian population aged 15 years and over (population benchmarks). From February 2004, labour force estimates have been compiled using benchmarks based on the results of the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. Revisions were made to historical estimates from January 1999 to January 2004.

25 Effects of rounding: Estimates have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.

26 Two types of error are possible in an estimate based on a sample survey: sampling error and non-sampling error.

27 Sampling error: Sampling error occurs because a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed. One measure of the likely difference resulting from not including all dwellings in the survey is given by the standard error. There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one standard error from the figure that would have been obtained if all dwellings had been included in the survey, and about nineteen chances in twenty that the difference will be less than two standard errors. Standard errors of other estimates and other movements may be determined by using information in the paper Labour Force Survey Standard Errors (6298.0.55.001) which is available free of charge on the ABS web site.

28 Non-sampling error: Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort is made to minimise reporting error by the careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient data processing procedures. Non-sampling error also arises because information cannot be obtained from all persons selected in the survey. The Labour Force Survey receives a high level of co-operation from individuals in selected dwellings, with the average response rate over the last year being 96%.

COLLECTION HISTORY

29 National surveys were conducted in February, May, August and November each year from 1964 to February 1978. The survey has been conducted on a monthly basis since February 1978.

30 From April 1986, the definition of employed persons was changed to include persons who worked without pay between 1 and 14 hours per week in a family business or on a farm (i.e. contributing family workers). For further information, see paragraphs 36 and 37 of the Explanatory Notes in the February 1987 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6203.0).

31 The ABS introduced telephone interviewing into the Labour Force Survey in August 1996. Implementation was phased in for each new sample group from August 1996 to February 1997. During the period of implementation, the new method produced different estimates than would have been obtained under the old methodology. The effect dissipated over the final months of implementation and was no longer discernible from February 1997. The estimates for February 1997 and onwards are directly comparable to estimates for periods prior to August 1996. For further details see the feature article in the June 1997 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6203.0).

32 From April 2001 the Labour Force Survey has been conducted using a redesigned questionnaire containing additional data items and some minor definitional changes. The definition of unemployed persons was changed to include all persons who were waiting to start work and were available to start in the reference week. This change was introduced in February 2004, when historical unit record data were revised from April 2001 to January 2004. This revision created a small trend break at April 2001 in unemployed persons and unemployment rate series. For further details see Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics (cat. no. 6292.0).

33 Core labour force series were revised in April 2001 for the period April 1986 to March 2001 for the remaining definitional changes introduced with the redesigned questionnaire, to reduce the impact of the changes on labour force series. For further details see Information Paper: Implementing the Redesigned Labour Force Survey Questionnaire (cat. no. 6295.0) and Information Paper: Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey (cat. no. 6232.0).

34 In May 2007, an improved method of estimation, know as composite estimation, was introduced into the Labour Force Survey. In introducing this change the ABS revised unit record data from April 2001 to April 2007 based on the new estimation method. While estimates for periods prior to April 2001 are unrevised and were compiled using a different estimation method, no trend break was identified in the employed persons series. Also, no change was identified in the trend breaks in the unemployed persons and unemployment rate series which arose with the introduction of a redesigned survey form in April 2001 (as noted above in paragraph 32). For further details, see Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics, 2007 (cat. no. 6292.0), released on 21 May 2007.

PUBLISHED DATA

35 Estimates from the Labour Force Survey are available in a number of publications. Estimates of Labour Force are published first in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0), 31 days after the commencement of interviews for that month, with the exception of estimates for each December which are published 38 days after the commencement of the interviews. More detailed estimates are available in electronic products (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001) one week after the release of the first estimates. Users may also wish to refer to Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0). This publication contains additional tables and a detailed list of related publications.

ABS DATA AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

36 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. For further information, please contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

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