6248.0 - Wage and Salary Earners, Australia, Sep 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2002   
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1 This publication contains estimates from the quarterly Survey of Employment and Earnings (SEE) which was introduced in the September quarter 1983. The survey is designed to obtain, from employer units, information on numbers of wage and salary earners employed each month and their quarterly earnings.


2 All wage and salary earners who received pay in any pay period ending within the quarter were represented in the survey, except:

  • members of the Australian permanent defence forces;
  • employees of businesses in the private sector primarily engaged in Agriculture, forestry and fishing;
  • employees in private households employing staff;
  • employees of overseas embassies, consulates, etc.;
  • employees based outside Australia; and
  • employees on workers’ compensation who are not paid through the payroll.

3 An indicator of the number of wage and salary earners out of scope as at June 2001 is shown in the following list:

New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia
Northern Territory
Australian Capital Territory

4 Estimates of the number of employees in private sector Agriculture, forestry and fishing and Private households employing staff were derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Data relating to the number of permanent defence force members are based upon information supplied to the ABS by the Department of Defence.

5 Also excluded are the following persons who are not regarded as employees for the purposes of this survey:
  • directors who are not paid a salary;
  • proprietors/partners of unincorporated businesses; and
  • self-employed persons such as subcontractors, owner/drivers, consultants and persons paid solely by commission without a retainer.


6 A sample of approximately 10,000 employer units is selected from the ABS Business Register to ensure adequate State and industry representation. Of these, approximately 7,500 are in the private sector and 2,500 are in the public sector. The survey is conducted by mail each quarter. However, data for a number of Commonwealth, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory government departments are collected electronically.

7 The statistical unit for the survey comprises all activities of an employer in a particular State or Territory. Each statistical unit is classified to an industry which reflects the predominant activity of the business in the State or Territory. See paragraphs 10-13 for more information on classification by industry.

8 Information on monthly number of employees and quarterly earnings is collected each quarter. For the first and last month of each quarter, only the total number of employees is collected; for the mid-month of each quarter, the number of full-time and part-time employees are collected. Up until May 1996 the number of male and female employees was also collected.

9 Public sector statistical units are stratified by State, industry and number of employees. Private sector units are further stratified by institutional sector classification. An equal probability sample is selected from each stratum.


10 From the March quarter 1997, the industrial classification used in the sample design of the SEE is the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification; for more details refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 1993 (Cat. no. 1292.0). It replaced the Australian Standard Industrial Classification (ASIC) previously used.

11 A consequence of the introduction of ANZSIC is that in the March quarter 1997 there is a higher than normal proportion of newly selected units in the sample causing higher than normal standard errors on estimated December quarter 1996 to March quarter 1997 movements. Hence caution should be used when comparing movements between these two quarters with movements between previous and subsequent quarters.

12 For further information see paragraphs 10-15 of the Explanatory Notes in the March quarter 1997 issue of this publication.


13 Previously published ASIC industry estimates have been recompiled on an equivalent ANZSIC basis back to the September quarter 1983. The historical ANZSIC estimates to September 1994 were produced by developing a concordance between ASIC and ANZSIC. The ANZSIC estimates from the December quarter 1994 to the December quarter 1996 have been produced by recoding survey unit data from ASIC to ANZSIC. Due to the sample being designed on an ASIC basis from the September quarter 1983 to the December quarter 1996, ANZSIC estimates for this period are subject to higher than normal standard errors.


14 Institutional units are classified by broad economic functions according to the Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia which is a key component of the general national accounting framework; for more details refer to Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA), 1987 (Cat. no. 1218.0). Public sector data split by the SISCA classification are available on request.


15 Data presented in table 20 show the distribution of employees in employer units over three size ranges. Over time, the composition of these categories will vary as some employer units migrate from one size group to another due to changes in the number of their employees.


16 Estimates are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. For more information refer to the Technical Notes.


17 Adjustments are included in the estimates to allow for lags in processing new businesses to the ABS Business Register and the omission of some mainly small private sector businesses from the Business Register. These adjustments were introduced in the March quarter 1997 issue and were backcast to the introduction of the series in 1983. For more details refer to the March quarter 1997 issue or the Information Paper: Improvements to ABS Economic Statistics, 1997 (Cat. no. 1357.0).


18 Estimates of wage and salary earners are presented in this publication for the middle month of the quarter. Monthly data are available on request. The survey is conducted quarterly and the sample of employer units is updated each quarter to reflect changes in the Register, from which the sample is selected. These changes arise from the emergence of new businesses, takeovers and mergers, changes to industry classification, changes in the number of employees, and businesses which have ceased operations.

19 Estimates of movements are also affected by:
  • changes in the reported number of employees of selected businesses ;
  • the controlled rotation of the sample; and
  • the privatisation of public trading and public financial enterprises.


20 Seasonal adjustment is a means of removing the estimated effects of normal seasonal variation from the series so that the effects of other influences can be more clearly recognised. Seasonal adjustment does not aim to remove the irregular or non-seasonal influences which may be present in any particular series. Influences that are volatile or unsystematic can still make it difficult to interpret the movement of the series even after adjustment for seasonal variation. This means that quarter-to-quarter movements of seasonally adjusted estimates may not be reliable indicators of trend behaviour.

21 The series have been seasonally adjusted from July 1983 and the historical series can be made available on request. The seasonal factors are reviewed annually to take account of each additional year’s original data. The most recent review, using original estimates to the December quarter 2000, took place in time for inclusion in the March quarter 2001 estimates.

22 Details about the method of seasonal adjustment of these series are available on request.


23 The ABS considers that trend estimates provide a more reliable guide to the underlying direction of the data, and are more suitable than either the seasonally adjusted or original estimates for most business decisions and policy advice.

24 The trend estimates in this publication are for the middle month of the quarter. They are obtained by dampening out the irregular component from the seasonally adjusted series and are calculated using a centred 13-term Henderson moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted series. Estimates for the six most recent months cannot be calculated using this centred average method; instead an asymmetric average is used. This can lead to revisions in the trend estimates for the last six months when data become available for later months. Revisions of trend estimates will also occur with revisions to the original data and re-estimation of seasonal adjustment factors.

25 If a series is highly volatile then the trend estimates will be subject to greater revision for the latest few months as new data become available. However, it is important to note that this does not make the trend series inferior to the seasonally adjusted or original series.

26 For more information, see A Guide to Interpreting Time Series-Monitoring Trends, an Overview (Cat. no. 1348.0), or contact the Assistant Director, Time Series Analysis on Canberra 02 6252 6345 or at timeseries@abs.gov.au..

27 Two feature articles which have appeared in the ABS monthly publication Australian Economic Indicators (Cat. no. 1350.0) may also be of interest:
  • Picking Turning Points in the Economy (April 1991);
  • and Smarter Data Use (March 1992).


28 The monthly LFS collects data by interview from a sample of about 30,000 private and non-private dwellings, using trained interviewers. Self-employed persons are included in the LFS. The estimates are published in Labour Force, Australia, Preliminary (Cat. no. 6202.0) and Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no 6203.0). There are conceptual and methodological reasons for differences in the estimates produced by the two surveys. These are discussed in Information Paper: Comparison of Employment Estimates from the Labour Force Survey and the Survey of Employment and Earnings (Cat. no. 6263.0).

29 When making comparisons of the wage and salary earners components of the two surveys it must be borne in mind that the SEE draws its sample from the ABS Register while the LFS is a household survey. As discussed in paragraph 17, the Register is subject to some undercoverage of business units at any point in time. This can lead to undercoverage of samples of businesses selected from the Register. Estimates obtained from households are not similarly impacted.

30 Separate estimates of full-time and part-time employees are included in table 10. For definitions of these terms, see the Glossary. This table was first published in the June quarter 1987 issue of this publication. Information for previous quarters back to the September quarter 1983 is available on request. For the reasons outlined above in paragraph 31, it is difficult to compare estimates of full-time and part-time employees derived from the SEE with those produced from the LFS. In the LFS, a person who works more than 35 hours a week in total in two (or more) part-time jobs is classified as working full-time. However, in this situation, the SEE would show two part-time jobs as having been filled.

31 The ABS considers that the Labour Force series provides the better indicator of overall employment movements at the Australian and State levels. The aggregate employment estimates in the quarterly National Accounts are based on that source. The SEE is the preferred source for industry and sector estimates of employees.


32 The SEE collects total quarterly employee earnings primarily for use in estimating the gross domestic product component of the Australian National Accounts. While average employee earnings can be derived from these data, the results will not be comparable with those from the Survey of Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) published in Average Weekly Earnings, Australia, Preliminary (Cat. no. 6301.0) and Average Weekly Earnings, States and Australia (Cat. no. 6302.0). The SEE collects the sum of employee earnings for all pay periods ending in a quarter and the results will be affected by the varying number of pay periods from quarter to quarter, whereas the AWE relates to a specified pay period within a quarter and is not subject to such influences. In addition, certain types of payments within the scope of the SEE, such as retrospective pay, pay in advance, leave loadings and severance, termination and redundancy payments are specifically excluded from the AWE. The SEE earnings data are also subject to seasonal variations, particularly in the December and March quarters, due to the incidence of holidays taken in January being paid in advance and the earnings being reported in the December quarter figures.


33 Some data have been suppressed to prevent disclosure, either directly or by inference, of information relating to individual businesses. These data have been replaced by the symbol 'n.p.', but are included in totals.


34 Users may also wish to refer to the following publications which are available on request:

Information Paper: Improvements to ABS Quarterly Business Indicators, 2001 (Cat. no. 5677.0)-issued 6 July 2001

Information Paper: Improvements to ABS Economic Statistics, 1997 (Cat. no. 1357.0)-issued 22 August 1997

Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0)-issued monthly

Average Weekly Earnings, Australia, Preliminary (Cat. no. 6301.0)-issued quarterly

Average Weekly Earnings, States and Australia (Cat. no. 6302.0)-issued quarterly

Wage Cost Index, Australia (Cat. no. 6345.0)-issued quarterly

Labour Statistics, Australia (Cat. no. 6101.0)-issued irregularly

A Guide to Labour Statistics, 1986 (Cat. no. 6102.0)-issued 10 February 1986

Small Business in Australia, 1997 (Cat. no. 1321.0)-issued 23 May 2000

Labour Force Projections, Australia, 1999-2016 (Cat. no. 6260.0)-issued 1 September 1999

Directory of Industrial Relations Statistics (Cat. no. 1134.0)-issued 21 August 1997.

35 Current publications produced by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (Cat. no. 1101.0). The ABS also issues, on Tuesdays and Fridays, a Release Advice (Cat. no. 1105.0) which lists publications to be released in the next few days. The Catalogue and Release Advice are available from any ABS office or the ABS website www.abs.gov.au.


36 As well as statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Details of additional data available are shown in Special Data Service on page 33 of this publication.


37 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.


ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ANZSICAustralian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification
ASICAustralian Standard Industrial Classification
AWESurvey of Average Weekly Earnings
LFSLabour Force Survey
SEESurvey of Employment and Earnings
SISCAStandard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia
n.a.not available
n.p.not available for publication, but included in totals. See
*paragraph 35 of the Explanatory Notes subject to high relative standard error. See paragraph 3 of the Technical Notes
-nil or rounded to zero