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Sampling error occurs because a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed. It reflects the difference between estimates based on a sample and those that would have been obtained had a census been conducted. One measure of this difference is 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 businesses had been included in the survey, and about nineteen chances in twenty that the difference will be less than two standard errors.
Another measure of sampling error is the relative standard error, which is obtained by expressing the standard error as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. The relative standard error is a useful measure in that it provides an immediate indication of the sampling error in percentage terms, and this avoids the need to refer also to the size of the estimate. Relative standard errors of key estimates are available in the Explanatory Notes of Accommodation Services, Australia (cat.no. 8695).
The ABS has been conducting surveys of accommodation services periodically since 1979-80. While the ABS seeks to maximise consistency and comparability over time by minimising changes to the survey, sound survey practice requires ongoing development to maintain the integrity of the data, its relevance to the changing needs of users and the efficiency of the collection. Additionally, the irregular frequency of the surveys mitigates against designing them to produce reliable estimates of change over time.
Changes made to the Accommodation Services Survey over time include changes in sampling methods, estimation methods, concepts, data item definitions and classifications. In introducing such changes the ABS has revised previous estimates whenever feasible to maximise consistency and coherence with current estimates. For a full list of changes made between the 2003-04 and to 2006-07 cycles of the Accommodation Services Survey refer to the Explanatory Notes of Accommodation Services, Australia (cat. no. 8695.0).
The estimates from the Accommodation Services Survey are only available as original series and are not seasonally or trend adjusted. Although financial data estimates in this publication relate to the full twelve months, employment estimates relate to the last pay period ending in June 2007, or the last pay period of the month specified, and business counts reflect only those businesses that were operating at 30 June 2007. As such, estimates of values per person employed or per business can be affected by any fluctuations in employment or business numbers during the reference period.
Further information on the terminology and other technical aspects associated with statistics from the Accommodation Services Survey can be found in the publication Accommodation Services, Australia (cat. no. 8695.0), which contains detailed Explanatory Notes, a Technical Note and a Glossary.
Data from the 2006-07 Accommodation Services Survey are available in a variety of formats. The formats available free of charge on the ABS website are:
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