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Employment and Earnings (Survey of)
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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    The quarterly Survey of Employment and Earnings (SEE) measures the gross earnings of employed wage and salary earners in the public sector only. Prior to the March 2002 collection, earnings of employees in private sector businesses were also included in the survey (excluding those employed in private agriculture). SEE collects employment and earnings data from a sample of businesses taken from the ABS Business Register. The data, in conjunction with data from Business Indicators, Australia (ABS Cat. No 5676.0) is used to estimate the gross earnings of, and the number of, employed wage and salary earners in Australia. This is a key input into the calculation of GDP(I). These estimates are classified by sector (public sector further split by institutional sector and level of government), state or territory, full-time/part-time status (prior to March quarter 2002) and industry.

    Originally, estimates were calculated in the Civilian Employees series using data from the payroll tax system. In 1981, a review of this series found that, because of significant and frequent increases to payroll tax exemption limits and the fact that the exemption limits varied between States, the series could no longer provide satisfactory data. The methodology for the Survey of Employment and Earnings was thus developed.

    Results from the survey are used to estimate key measures of employment and gross domestic product. Preliminary SEE data is provided to ABS National Accounts Branch.
    The final results are also used by Commonwealth and State government departments, employer associations, and trade unions in developing and reviewing wages and labour market policies.

    All public sector wage and salary earners who received pay for the reference period ending within the quarter are represented in the survey, except:

    • members of the Australian permanent defence forces;
    • employees of overseas embassies, consulates, etc.;
    • employees based outside Australia; and
    • employees on workers' compensation who are not paid through the payroll.

    Also excluded are the following persons who are not regarded as employees for the purposes of the survey:
    • irregular casual employees who did not receive pay for the reference period;
    • employees on strike, or stood down who did not receive pay for the reference period;
    • employees on leave without pay who did not receive pay for the reference period;
    • directors or office holders who are not paid a salary;
    • self-employed persons such as subcontractors, owner/drivers, consultants; and
    • persons paid solely by commission without a retainer.


    Conceptual framework
    Not applicable

    Main outputs
    For public sector employees only from March quarter 2002 (private sector also covered prior to that date):

    • Employees: number by state or territory, by industry, by sector, level of government and by full-time/part-time status (prior to March quarter 2002 for full-time/part-time status). Employees by employer size is also published.
    • Earnings: gross by state or territory, by industry, by sector (private sector data only availabale prior to March quarter 2002) and by level of government.
    Note : Trend estimates, seasonally adjusted estimates and original estimates are available.


    • Estimates are published at the state level.
    • They are not available for any smaller geographical area.

    • Estimates are published at the sector level (private/public) prior to March quarter 2002. from that time only public sector data are available. Public sector is split into level of government (Commonwealth, State and Local). These are further broken down into 'public trading enterprises', 'financial enterprises' and 'general government'. This breakdown is not published but is available as a special data service.

    • Estimates are published at the ANZSIC division level (1 digit).
    • Estimates are also available at the ANZSIC sub-division level (2 digit), with selected industries being available at a finer level subject to confidentiality restrictions.

    Full-time/Part-time Status (prior to March quarter 2002 only)
    • Estimates of employees are published for full-time and part-time employees.

    Employer size (prior to March quarter 2002 only)
    • Estimates of employees and earnings are published for businesses employing 0-19, 20-99 and 100+ employees by State by Industry for the private sector. Other size ranges are available on request as a special data service.

    5.3.1 State
    CODE State Name

    1 New South Wales
    2 Victoria
    3 Queensland
    4 South Australia
    5 Western Australia
    6 Tasmania
    7 Northern Territory
    8 Australian Capital Territory
    9 Australia

    5.3.2 Sector
    Sector is taken from MUTOLO on the MUS record and has the values described below. Sector 2 is equivalent to sectors 3, 4 and 5 combined. Sector 7 is equivalent to sectors 1 and 2 combined (used for EAs where there is no sector split).

    1 Private (TOLO 1-20) - prior to March quarter 2002 only
    2 Total public sector - sectors 3 to 5 (TOLO 21-26, 31-36)
    3 Commonwealth Govt (TOLO 21-26)
    4 State Govt (TOLO 31-33, 36)
    5 Local Govt (TOLO 34, 35)
    6 State and Local Govt combined - sectors 4 and 5 (TOLO 31-36)
    7 All sectors - prior to March quarter 2002 only

    5.3.3 SISCA Codes

    Private Sector - prior to March quarter 2002 only

    14 Corporate Trading Enterprises
    15 Corporate Financial Enterprises
    16 Unincorporated Enterprises
    17 Non-profit Institutions Serving Households

    Public Sector

    Total Public Sector
    21 General Government
    22 Public Trading Enterprises
    23 Public Financial Enterprises
    29 All SISCAs (= SECTPUB 2)

    31 General Government
    32 Public Trading Enterprises
    33 Public Financial Enterprises

    41 General Government
    42 Public Trading Enterprises
    43 Public Financial Enterprises

    51 General Government
    52 Public Trading Enterprises
    53 Public Financial Enterprises

    All Sectors - prior to March quarter 2002 only
    99 Total All SISCAs in all Sectors

    5.3.4 Industry (17 for strata)
    ANZSIC Division is taken from IN1_17 on the MUS record and can take the value B-Q.

    ANZSIC Division M does not apply to the private sector.


    01 A 01-04 Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
    02 B 11-15 Mining
    03 C 21-29 Manufacturing
    04 D 36-37 Electric, Gas and Water Supply
    05 E 41-42 Construction
    06 F 45-47 Wholesale Trade
    07 G 51-53 Retail Trade
    08 H 57 Accommodation, Cafes and Restaurants
    09 I 61-67 Transport and Storage
    10 J 71 Communication Services
    11 K 73-75 Finance and Insurance
    12 L 77-78 Property and Business Services
    13 M 81-82 Government Administration and Defence
    14 N 84 Education
    15 O 86-87 Health and Community Services
    16 P 91-93 Cultural and Recreation services
    17 Q 95-97 Personal and Other Services

    Other concepts (summary)
    Not applicable

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    The largest geographical area covered is Australia. Estimates by State are available. Estimates for geographic areas below State level are not possible.
    Business within the Jervis Bay territory and external territories {Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands} are out of scope of the survey.


    Frequency comments
    Not applicable

    A sample survey of employers based on the existing ABS Business Register was introduced in September 1983. This new survey replaced the payroll tax based Civilian Employees series which was discontinued in April 1980 and the collection by the Government of employment and wages.

    • 1997: Survey sample was redesigned towards the Australia New Zealand Standard Industry Code (ANZSIC). SEE publication was re-instated with backcast ANZSIC based estimates information.
      New stratification was undertaken at the Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA) for the private sector to provide National Accounts Branch with required data.
    • 2002: The private sector component of the survey was discontinued from March quarter 2002


    Data availability comments

    01/08/2005 11:45 AM

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