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1504.0 - Methodological News, Jun 2011  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/06/2011   
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AWE/Salary Sacrifice Series


The Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) survey will be releasing for the first time in August 2011, coinciding with the May 2011 publication, the cash series spreadsheets, which is earnings that includes salary sacrifice. The PDF publication will continue to publish just the earnings data which by definition excludes salary sacrifice. Salary sacrifice earnings are gross earnings used in Australian Taxation Office (ATO) approved schemes such as novated leases on cars. The advantage to the employee is, for example, not having to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST) on a new car and allows the employee to reduce their taxable income. In the lead up to this, the methodology division was heavily involved in assisting the survey area in quality assuring the salary sacrifice earnings data. This involved selecting a sub-sample of AWE providers for the survey area to work through potential reporting issues. As the AWE definition of earnings excludes those that were salary sacrificed, the quality assurance programme allowed the survey area to minimise mis-reporting by providers.

Further work was carried out by the methodology division in assessing the suitability of the current imputation methods used for the earnings and employment data items, in imputing salary sacrifice data items given their tendency to be more volatile. These imputation methods involve using the previously reported value with a growth factor applied where the historical data is available. Where the historical data is not available a ratio factor based on benchmark employment is applied to the unit requiring imputation. The analysis found that the existing imputation methods were suitable and have now been implemented.

For further details please contact Martin Caruso on (08) 9360 5302 or martin.caruso@abs.gov.au


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