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Labour Force
 
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    NAME OF ORGANISATION
    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    OVERVIEW

    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. Estimates of employment, unemployment, unemployment rate and labour force participation rate are published (in original, seasonally adjusted and trend terms) each month in Labour Force, Australia, Preliminary (ABS Cat. No. 6202.0) and Labour Force, Australia (ABS Cat. No. 6203.0).

    PURPOSE

    Labour Force Survey data are a key element of labour market and other economic information provided by the ABS. The principal objective is to facilitate the analysis and monitoring of social and economic aspects of the Australian labour market and working age population. This objective is achieved by providing timely statistics of the size and characteristics of the civilian labour force gained from the Labour Force Survey and associated Supplementary Surveys.

    SCOPE

    The Labour Force Survey includes all persons aged 15 and over except:

    1. members of the permanent defence forces;
    2. certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from census and estimated population counts;
    3. overseas residents in Australia; and
    4. members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia.

    EXCLUDES EXTERNAL TERRITORIES

    From July 1993 Jervis Bay Territory is also excluded from the scope of the survey. Before July 1993 it was included in estimates for the Australian Capital Territory.

    COVERAGE

    In the Labour Force Survey, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling, and hence has only one chance of selection. The chance of a person being enumerated at two separate dwellings in the one survey is considered to be negligible.

    Persons who are away from their usual residence for six weeks or less at the time of interview are enumerated at their usual residence (relevant information may be obtained from other usual residents present at the time of the survey)

    DATA DETAIL

    Conceptual framework

    The Labour Force Survey (LFS) provides a measure of the currently economically active population (i.e the labour force). The labour force (the sum of employed plus unemployed) is so defined as to be conceptually equivalent to the pool of labour available for the production of economic goods and services as defined for System of National Accounts (SNA) measures of economic output.

    On the basis of a specific set of rules, the labour force framework classifies, at a given moment in time, the population aged 15 and over for measuring the economically active population, into three mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories: employed, unemployed and not in the labour force. The employed and unemployed categories together make up the labour force, or the currently active population, which gives a measure of the number of persons furnishing the supply of labour at a given moment in time. The third category (not in the labour force) represents the population not currently economically active.

    Main outputs

    For major labour force series, original, seasonally adjusted and trend estimates are published each month in:

    LABOUR FORCE, AUSTRALIA, PRELIMINARY (ABS Cat. No. 6202.0).

    Preliminary results of the monthly Labour Force Survey containing estimates of employed and unemployed persons classified by sex, full-time/part-time status, States and Territories and some age groups; and persons not in the labour force.

    LABOUR FORCE, SELECTED SUMMARY TABLES, AUSTRALIA (ABS Cat. No. 6291.0.40.001)

    Contains tables showing Labour Force Status by region, duration of unemployment (including long term unemployed) and employed by industry Division (quarterly). The full range of detailed results of the monthly Labour Force Survey are available on this release day, mainly through electronic products.

    LABOUR FORCE, AUSTRALIA (ABS Cat. No. 6203.0)

    Publication presenting data released earlier in the month. Includes tables showing the civilian population aged 15 and over by sex, labour force status, age (single years for persons aged 15 to 24 years), marital status, States and Territories, capital cities, attendance at school or tertiary education institution, country of birth, year of arrival in Australia, industry, occupation, hours worked, average hours worked, full-time/part-time workers, participation rates, whether looking for full-time or part-time work (unemployed), duration of unemployment, changes in labour force status using matched records, relationship in household, families. Includes some additional seasonally adjusted and trend series (e.g. long term unemployed (monthly) , employed by industry Division (quarterly). Revised seasonally adjusted and trend estimates are published in February issues. Most issues contain an article on a special labour force topic.

    Classifications

    The main classifications used in the Labour Force Survey (documented in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (ABS Cat. No. 6102.0) and Standards for Labour Force Variables (ABS Cat. No. 1288.0)) are:

    Labour Force Status,

    Status in employment,

    Hours worked,

    Full-time/Part-time Status,

    Duration of unemployment,

    Occupation, and Industry.

    INDUSTRY

    Census Classification and Classified List of Industries (CCLI) from 1966,

    Australian Standard Industry Classification (ASIC) from Aug 1971,

    Australia and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) (ABS Cat. No. 1292.0) from Aug 1994, with data backcast to November 1984.

    OCCUPATION

    Census Classification and Classified List of Occupations (CCLO) from 1966,

    Australian Standard Classification of Occupations First Edition (ASCO FE) from August 1986,
    Australian Standard Classification of Occupations Second Edition (ASCO SE) (ABS Cat. No. 1220.0) from August 1996.

    BIRTHPLACE

    Census Classification of Birthplace (COB) from 1966,

    The Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) (ABS Cat. No. 1269.0) from April 1991.

    RELATIONSHIP IN HOUSEHOLD

    Introduced from March 1994 in accordance with the Directory of Concepts and Standards for Social, Labour and Demographic Statistics.

    FAMILY TYPE

    From December 1989 onwards, the category "other families" was split into "one-parent families" and "other families". Therefore estimates of other families were not strictly comparable with estimates in previous issues. However, in November 1989, 97 per cent of other families with dependants were one-parent families.

    In March 1994, a new family type classification was introduced in accordance with the Directory of Concepts and Standards for Social, Labour and Demographic Statistics. The new classification affected comparability of data.

    Other concepts (summary)

    The framework can be extended to provide analysis of more complex labour market measures, as recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Conference of Labour Statisticians, such as marginal attachment, underemployment, discouraged job seekers. These measures, too complex to measure in the Monthly Labour Force Survey (MLFS) proper, are the subject of regular supplementary surveys.

    GEOGRAPHIC DETAIL
    1. National & State/Territory\1.01 Australia
    1. National & State/Territory\1.02 All States & Territories
    2. Parts of State\2.12 Other Geographic Areas\2.12.02 Labour Force Region
    2. Parts of State\2.12 Other Geographic Areas\2.12.03 Part of State Metropolitan
    2. Parts of State\2.12 Other Geographic Areas\2.12.04 Part of State-Extra Metropolitan

    Comments and/or Other Regions

    Labour Force Regions are generally either Statistical Regions or aggregations of Statistical Regions of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) (ABS Cat. No. 1216.0). Selected Statistical Region sectors are available.

    Also see SCOPE for details of Geographic scope exclusions

    COLLECTION FREQUENCY
    Monthly

    Frequency comments



    COLLECTION HISTORY

    MAJOR CHANGES TO THE LABOUR FORCE SURVEY

    SURVEYEVENT
    Nov 1960Quarterly survey commenced.

    State Capital cities only, including persons aged 14 and over, but excluding the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

    Sample of 1% of households Australia wide, with 1/8 rotation in private dwellings and 1/4 rotation in other dwellings.
    Nov 1963First release of State Capital city series, November 1960-November 1963 Employment and Unemployment, October 1963 (Ref. No. 6.4) issued February 1964.

    Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1961 Census data.
    Labour force definitions based on International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) 1954.
    Feb 1964Quarterly national survey commenced. Capital city series continue in absence of release of national series.

    Capital city estimates and population benchmarks based on 1961 Census data.
    Aug 1966Scope of survey population reduced to persons aged 15 and over, due to changes in the school leaving age and to conform with definitions used in the 1966 Population Census.

    Indigenous population included: see February 1969 revision.

    Additional questions introduced on steps taken to find a job. The grouping of hours worked changed to reflect recommendations from ICLS 1961.

    Occupation classified according to Classification and Classified List of Occupations (CCLO) 1966 Census edition.

    Industry classified according to Classification and Classified List of Industries (CCLI) 1966 Census edition and 1966 Group Employer Place of Work index.
    Aug 1967Additional questions introduced to better identify employees of incorporated enterprises (some of whom had previously been incorrectly classified as employers or self-employed).
    Feb 1969 First release of national series in the quarterly publication The Labour Force, Preliminary Estimates, August 1966-February 1969 (Ref. No. 6.20). Subsequent publications titled The Labour Force (Ref. No. 6.20).

    Estimates and population benchmarks from February 1964 based on 1966 Census data, State of enumeration/place of usual residence basis from February 64 onwards, including Indigenous population from August 1966 onwards.
    May 1970First release of national seasonally adjusted series.
    Jul 1970Annual issue of The Labour Force, Historical Supplement 1964-1968 (Ref. No. 6.22) commenced, subsequent publications titled The Labour Force (Ref. No. 6.22).
    Aug 1971Classification of trainee teachers changed from 'employed' to 'not in the labour force', in conformity with 1971 Census practice and international recommendations regarding activity principles.

    For the period August 1971 to August 1972, industry responses coded to both CCLI and Australian Standard Industrial Classification(ASIC), leading to full adoption of industry classified according to 1971 Census ASIC (August 1969 Preliminary edition) and 1971 Census Industry/Destination zone employer index from November 1972, and conversion of August 1966-May 1971 industry series to ASIC.
    Nov 1971Occupation classified according to CCLO 1971 edition, replacing CCLO 1966 version.
    Feb 1972Questions on country of birth and year of arrival in Australia added. February 1972 data published as supplementary survey results and then quarterly in The Labour Force (Ref. No. 6.20) from May 1972 onwards.
    May 1972Sample redesign based on 1971 Population Census, phased in from May 1972 to November 1972. Introduction of different sampling fractions across States and Territories, with overall fraction reduced from 1% to 0.67%.
    Nov 1972First release of preliminary labour force estimates in the quarterly publication The Labour Force (Preliminary) (Ref. No. 6.32), issued in May 1973.

    See August 1971 note re industry coding.
    Nov 1973Seasonal adjustment of estimates for unemployed males, females and persons by separate adjustment of unemployed series by sex (males, females) by age (15-19 years, 20 years and over). Previously, estimates were obtained by a (single) direct adjustment to the total estimate.

    Seasonally adjusted unemployment estimates February 1964-August 1973 revised. For final publication of February 1964-May 1966 seasonally adjusted series (1966-based, excluding Indigenous population) see The Labour Force, 1977 (ABS Cat. No. 6204.0).
    Nov 1974First collection of Relationship in household data. Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Families (ABS Cat. No. 6224.0) first published as an irregular. See also Labour Force, Australia (ABS Cat. No. 6203.0) various issues e.g. May 1977, July 1980.

    First release of preliminary unemployment estimates in the quarterly publication Unemployment, Preliminary Estimates (Ref. No. 6.31), issued in December 1974.

    Relationship in household (and hence families) estimates excluded persons in institutions. 'Family status' imputed for persons in private households where any member was out of scope, absent for 6 weeks or more at survey, or who were a visitor.

    Families estimates based on proxy (household head) weight.
    Feb 1975Estimates excluded Darwin (due to effects of cyclone Tracy).

    Respondents asked if they looked for work in the last four weeks (previously looked for work last week). Availability question added.

    Unemployment series and definition continued on old basis, with separate publication of new question results until February 1976. Unemployment definition and series based on new questions adopted from May 1976.
    May 1975Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1971 Census benchmarks. Revisions to August 1966-November 1972 principal series, and from February 1973 onwards, full revision of all estimates and series (including annual seasonal factor re-analysis).
    May 1976Following February 1975 question changes, definition of unemployment revised to incorporate active job search, and availability to start work in the reference week (with separate provision for temporary illness and future starters). Series revised from February 1975.
    Aug 1977Catalogue numbers replaced reference numbers - ABS Cat. No. 6202.0 replaced Ref. No. 6.32 and ABS Cat. No. 6203.0 replaced Ref. No. 6.20.
    Nov 1977In preparation for the start of monthly surveys in February 1978 (with a new questionnaire, revised 1976 Census based sample and 1976 based population benchmarks), two surveys were conducted simultaneously in November 1977.

    Of these two surveys, one provided the published November 1977 results, based on the old questionnaire, the old 1971-based sample design (reduced to 0.5%), and the 1971-based population benchmarks.

    The other survey, based on the new questionnaire and the new, 1976-based sample, was used to prepare adjustment factors and revisions to historical estimates, so that comparable historical series could be published with the first release of February 1978 survey results.

    Occupation classified according to CCLO 1976 edition, replacing CCLO 1971 version.

    Industry classified according to ASIC 1969 edition and Integrated Business Register employer index.

    Catalogue numbers replaced reference numbers - ABS Cat. No. 6201.0 replaced Ref. No. 6.35.
    Feb 1978Monthly national survey commenced. The Labour Force Survey adopted as the official national measure of unemployment. Interviews conducted over 2 one-week periods, previously 4 one-week periods.

    Estimates and benchmarks based on 1976 Census data, with series from August 1971 onwards revised to 1976-based benchmarks. Complex mix of reweighting unit record files, and/or key series adjustment: not all files, nor all series, were revised (see Labour Force Australia, Historical Summary 1966-1984 (ABS Cat. No. 6204.0) Appendix 1).

    With full implementation of the 1976 Census based sample design, 1/8 monthly sample rotation introduced for non-private dwellings: whole sample now subject to 1/8 rotation.

    New questionnaire, with substantial redesign of question wording, structure and sequence to improve data quality collected on 0.5% sample, new design. Changes included separate questions on looking for full-time/looking for part-time job; active search more clearly identified, availability and future starters better identified. Some impact on employed, main impact on unemployed seeking part-time work.

    New definitions of employment and unemployment adopted. Definition of Unemployed persons looking for first job was revised to "unemployed persons who had never worked full time for two weeks or more". Prior to November 1977 the definition was "unemployed persons who had never had a job".

    August 1966-November 1977 series revised to comparable basis, as a result of new questionnaire introduction. Seasonally adjusted series continued on a quarterly basis, pending accumulation of sufficient results to permit adjustment of monthly series.
    Jul 1979Annual issue of Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Families (ABS Cat. No. 6224.0) commenced (July each year except June 1981, then June each year 1986 onwards).
    Nov 1979Industry classified according to ASIC 1978 edition, replacing ASIC 1969 edition.
    Aug 1981Occupation classified according to CCLO November 1980 edition, replacing CCLO 1976 version.
    Nov 1981Minor rewording and re-ordering of categories of steps taken to look for work. No impact on data or definitions.
    Feb 1982Seasonally adjusted series introduced for monthly estimates series from February 1978 onwards. Annual seasonal factor re-analysis and series revision carried out at February each year from this survey.
    Oct 1982Full sample flipped-over to sample redesign based on 1981 Population Census including modifications to enable production of regional estimates within States, and estimates by State of usual residence.

    Additional questions to identify usual residence and family relationship, with marital status questions reworded and de facto relationships coded as married. Additional identification of persons usually working less than 35 hours per week.

    1981 Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) based Labour Force Statistical Regions classification.
    Dec 1982Monthly publication Unemployment, Preliminary (ABS Cat. No. 6101.0) discontinued, final release issued in January 1983.
    Jul 1983Scope for 'Family status' (and hence families estimates) restricted to usual residents of private dwellings where all usual residents were within the survey scope and present (in on coverage) at survey date. 'Family status' and families estimates thus exclude all persons in non-private dwellings, persons visiting private dwellings, or households where any member was out of scope or absent for 6 weeks or more at survey.
    Feb 1984Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1981 Census data. Estimates for the period October 1982 onwards revised to full State of usual residence basis on 1981 Census benchmarks. Estimates from February 1978 to September 1982 revised to 1981-based benchmarks but remain on the previous State of enumeration/place of usual residence basis.
    Sept 1984Monthly publication of Relationship in household and Families estimates in Labour Force, Australia (ABS Cat. No. 6203.0) commences. Scope and estimation as for annual collection.
    Nov 1984Industry classified according to ASIC 1983 edition, replacing ASIC 1978 edition.
    Apr 1986Definition of employed persons altered, to include persons working 1 to 14 hours without pay in a family business or farm, in line with International Labour Organisation (ILO) definitions (ICLS 1982). Minor question wording and sequence changes in consequence.

    Significant break in series for employed, employed part-time, unemployed and related unemployment rates.

    Dependants definition, and the Family status item 'full-time student', includes full-time students aged 15-24 (previously aged 15-20).

    Weighting of families estimates changed, from proxy (household head) weight to harmonic mean of weights of all responding members of the family.
    Aug 1986Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) introduced for classification of occupation of persons, replacing CCLO 1981.
    Sept 1987 to
    Dec 1987
    Sample redesign based on the 1986 Population Census. New sample phased in. Overall sample fraction 0.6%.

    1986 ASGC based Labour Force Statistical Regions classification.
    Nov 1988Additional unemployment variable introduced: reason for ceasing last job (job losers/job leavers). No change in definition nor break in series.
    Feb 1989Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1986 Census data. All estimates for the period January 1984 onwards revised.
    June 1989'Family type' class 'Other families' split into 'One parent families' and 'Other families'.
    Nov 1989Optical Mark Recognition questionnaire design and data capture method introduced.
    Sept 1992 to
    Dec 1992
    Sample redesign based on the 1991 Population Census. New sample phased in. Overall fraction 0.5%.

    1991 ASGC based Labour Force Statistical Regions classification.
    Feb 1993Introduction of seasonally adjusted and trend series for Employed persons by Industry of main job (at Industry Division level).
    Jul 1993Jervis Bay Territory excluded from the scope of the survey. Prior to this time it was included in estimates for the Australian Capital Territory.
    Feb 1994Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1991 Census data. All estimates for the period January 1989 onwards revised.

    Status in employment class titles amended to reflect ICLS International Classification of Status in Employment (ICSE-93).
    Mar 1994'Relationship in household' and 'Family type' classifications aligned with ABS standards, resulting in some breaks in comparability with previous Family status and family type classifications.
    Aug 1994Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) introduced in place of ASIC 1983 edition. Revised historical estimates published of employment by ANZSIC group August 1984 onwards.
    Aug 1995Seasonally adjusted and trend estimates of long-term unemployment published for the first time.
    Aug 1996 to
    Feb 1997
    Telephone interviewing implemented progressively. Initial impact on data dissipated by end of implementation period.
    Aug 1996Occupation coded using Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Second Edition replacing the first edition of ASCO.
    Sept 1997 to
    Apr 1998
    Sample redesign phased in based on the 1996 Population Census. Overall fraction 0.5%.

    1996 ASGC based Labour Force Statistical Regions classification.
    Feb 1999Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1996 Census data. All estimates for the period January 1995 onwards revised.
    Feb 2000Computer assisted coding introduced for industry and occupation in place of manual coding and reference to the ABS Business Register. Derivation of status in employment changed to remove reference to the ABS Business Register for limited liability information. Breaks in series for Status in employment, Industry and Occupation series.
    Mar 2000 to
    Jul 2000
    One rotation group each month enumerated by new questionnaire for evaluation purposes. Data converted to existing definitions at estimation stage.
    Sept 2000NSW enumeration one week early to allow for Olympic Games.
    Apr 2001New questionnaire implemented. New or extended data on: job tenure; underemployment; hours worked; duration of unemployment; and marginal attachment to the labour force. Minor definitional changes to employment and unemployment relating to: short term absences; unavailability due to illness; and contributing family workers (ICLS 1982, ICSE-93, ICLS 1998).
    Aug 2001Enumeration one week later than usual to avoid overlap with population census.


    DATA AVAILABILITY
    Yes

    Data availability comments

    DATA RELEASE TIMING

    FIRST RELEASE DATA

    Estimates from the Labour Force Survey are published first in Labour Force, Australia, Preliminary (ABS Cat. No. 6202.0), which is released 31 days after the commencement of interviews for the month, with the exception of estimates for each December which are published 38 days after the commencement of interviews.

    SECOND RELEASE DATA

    Release of Final data occurs 7 days after release of Labour Force, Australia, Preliminary (ABS Cat. No. 6202.0), in advance of Labour Force, Australia, (ABS Cat. No. 6203.0) release.

    Labour Force, Australia, (ABS Cat. No. 6203.0) is generally released by the end of the month following the reference month


    DATE OF LAST UPDATE FOR THIS DOCUMENT
    14/04/2003 12:31 PM



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