6226.0.55.001 - Persons Not In the Labour Force, Underemployed Workers and Job Search Experience, Australia, February 2014 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/02/2015  First Issue
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Key changes made to Persons Not in the Labour Force, Underemployed Workers and Job Search Experience Surveys include:

REVISION OF POPULATION BENCHMARKS

The Labour Force Survey estimates and estimates from the supplementary surveys, are calculated in such a way as to sum to independent estimates of the civilian population aged 15 years and over (population benchmarks). These population benchmarks are based on Estimated Resident Population (ERP) data. Generally, revisions are made to population benchmarks for the LFS following the final rebasing of population estimates to the latest five-yearly Census of Population and Housing, or when the need arises. However, the estimates from the supplementary surveys are not normally revised to reflect the latest benchmarks.

Changes to the LFS population benchmarks impact primarily on the magnitude of the Labour Force Survey estimates (i.e. employment and unemployment) that are directly related to the underlying size of the population. For more details on population benchmarks, see the Explanatory Notes in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0), and for details about the revisions made, see the article in the January 2014 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) and the article in the November 2012 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

From January 2014, Labour Force Estimates have been compiled using population benchmarks based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. At the time of publication, this issue's estimates are comparable with the published labour force estimates for February 2014.


COMPARABILITY WITH PREVIOUS SURVEYS

Care should be taken when comparing the estimates for PNILF, UEW and JSE with previous years as PNILF and UEW were previously collected in September, and JSE was previously collected in July. Collection of data from this combined survey was undertaken in February.

From December 2012 to April 2013, the ABS conducted a trial of online data collection for the LFS including the supplementary surveys. Respondents in one rotation group (i.e. one-eighth of the survey sample) were offered the option of self completing their survey questionnaire online instead of via face-to-face or telephone interview. From May 2013, the ABS expanded the offer of online collection to each new incoming rotation group. For more information see the article in the April 2013 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6222.0). No statistical impact has been identified to date.


Comparability with previous Persons Not In the Labour Force surveys

Persons Not in the Labour Force Surveys conducted up to and including September 1987 included all people aged 15 years and over. From September 1988 to September 2004, the survey excluded all people aged 70 years and over.

The scope of the Persons Not in the Labour Force Survey was expanded in September 2005 to include all people aged 15 years and over. This change resulted in about 1.6 million extra people coming within the scope of this survey. Users need to exercise caution when comparing the estimates prior to 2005 with subsequent years. Direct comparisons should only be made where the same age ranges can be applied.

From September 2006, estimates of the number of people not in the labour force because they were caring for children include people whose youngest child was aged 12 years and under. Previously, questions relating to the care of children were only asked of people with children aged 11 years and under. This change was made to ensure consistency with other ABS surveys. Users need to exercise care when comparing the estimates in PNILF table 9 of this publication with publications prior to September 2006.

Following a review of the Persons Not in the Labour Force Survey, a number of changes were implemented in the 2007 cycle. Users need to exercise caution when comparing estimates from 2007 with previous years data.

Between September 2001 and September 2006, people who reported in the LFS that they were Permanently not intending to work were not asked questions about wanting to work and looking for work in the Persons Not in the Labour Force Survey. As such, these people were classified as Did not want to work. It is likely, however, that if they had been asked these questions, then some of these people may have been classified differently and may have been included in one of the Wanted to work categories. From September 2007, people who specified that they were Permanently not intending to work were asked questions about wanting to work and looking for work. As a result of this change, there has been a break in time series. People who reported that they were permanently unable to work are not asked questions about wanting to work or looking for work. For these people, information is obtained about their last job and their main activity.

Prior to September 2007, the data items, All reasons for not actively looking for work, Main reason for not actively looking for work and Main reason not available to start work within four weeks included the category Own ill health, physical disability or pregnancy. From September 2007, this category has been split into three separate categories: Own short-term illness or injury, Own long-term health condition or disability and Pregnancy.

Prior to September 2007, the data items, Reason for ceasing last job and Main activity when not in the labour force included the categories Own ill-health or injury and Own disability or handicap. From September 2007, these categories were renamed to ensure they were consistent with those in other data items and have been collected as Own short-term illness or injury and Own long-term health condition or disability, respectively. While the way interviewers were instructed to code the responses to the relevant categories did not conceptually change, the renaming has caused a break in time series.

From September 2007, a new data item, All reasons not available to start work within four weeks, has been collected in addition to Main reason not available to start work within four weeks.

Prior to September 2008, the data item Main activity when not in the labour force included the category Home duties or caring for children. From September 2008, this category has been split into two separate categories, Home duties and Caring for children. Care should be taken in interpreting the data in these categories because some people with young children indicated that Home duties was their main activity when not in the labour force, rather than Caring for children.

From September 2009, a new response category, Believes ill-health or disability discourages employers, has been included in the data items Main reason not actively looking for work and All reasons not actively looking for work.

From September 2009, Believes ill-health or disability discourages employers and with No jobs in suitable hours are included with other responses to derive the population group Discouraged job seekers. Prior to September 2009, No jobs in suitable hours was included in the category Other. As a result of this change, there is a break in time series and users need to exercise care when comparing estimates from 2009 with previous years data.

From September 2009, the method used to determine whether a respondent prefers full-time or part-time work changed. In 2009, respondents were asked the number of hours they would prefer to work, whereas in previous years, they were asked whether they would prefer to work full-time or part-time. A new data item Preferred number of hours is available. Both data items apply only to people who intend to enter the labour force in the next 12 months. As a result of this change, there is a break in time series and users need to exercise care when comparing the estimates in PNILF table 5 of this publication with publications prior to September 2009.


Comparability with previous Underemployed Workers surveys

In September 2008, there was a substantial increase in the number of part-time workers who preferred more hours and in underemployed workers. This was due to a change in the question being asked of part-time workers. From September 2008, part-time workers were asked "Would you prefer to work more hours than you usually work?". In previous surveys part-time workers were asked "Would you prefer a job in which you worked more hours a week?". The question was altered to be consistent with the LFS and is now broader and more inclusive of people's situations as it relates to a preference for more hours of work.

In 2008, an additional 115,800 people were classified as part-time workers who preferred more hours and an additional 131,500 people were classified as underemployed workers. Users need to exercise care when comparing the number of part-time workers who preferred more hours and unemployed workers from 2008 onwards with previous releases because of this break in the series.

From July 2004, a change was made to the category Considered too young or too old by employers for the items All difficulties in finding work with more hours and Main difficulty in finding work with more hours. The category has been split into Considered too young by employers and Considered too old by employers.


Comparability with previous Job Search Experience surveys

From July 2004, a change was made to the category Considered too young or too old by employers for the data items All difficulties in finding work and Main difficulty in finding work. The category has been split into Considered too young by employers and Considered too old by employers. Data for Considered too young by employers are not published separately in all relevant tables, but are available on request.

The JSE supplementary survey was redesigned in 2011 to broaden the scope of existing JSE populations by introducing two new population groups:

  • Owner managers who started their current business in the previous 12 months; and
  • Persons employed for more than a year in their current job who looked for work in the previous 12 months.

In conjunction with these changes, a number of additional data items are now presented in this publication and/or available on request. For more information see Appendix 1: Job Search Experience Survey Redesign in the July 2011 edition of Job Search Experience, Australia (cat. no. 6222.0).

For the July 2013 survey, all data was collected from any responsible adult (ARA) in the household at the time of interview. The ARA responded on behalf of all people in the household who had taken steps to find work. Prior to 2013, information about job search experience and steps taken to find work was obtained via a personal interview with each relevant person in the household.