6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Dec 2015 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/01/2016   
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WHAT'S NEW IN THE LABOUR FORCE


UPDATE TO LABOUR FORCE SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE

As mentioned in the October 2015 issue of Labour Force, Australia, commencing from the December 2015 Labour Force Survey a minor wording change was made to one question relating to the job search activity undertaken by the respondent during the reference week. This change was necessary as the question previously referred to a superseded Australian Government program, Job Services Australia, which was replaced by the jobactive program from July 2015.

The question wording was updated from:

"At any time in the last 4 weeks [have you/has name] checked or registered with a Job Services Australia provider or any other employment agency? " to

"At any time in the last 4 weeks [have you/has name] checked or registered with an employment agency?".

As the name of employment programs may change in the future, the question now refers to the generic "employment agency" rather than a specific program. The updated question wording is equivalent to the wording used prior to the changed questionnaire introduced in July 2014. A positive response to this question remains an active job search step for the purpose of classifying a respondent as unemployed, and continues to be asked in the same sequence relative to other job search questions.

No discernible impact on the estimate of unemployed persons or the unemployment rate for December 2015 has been identified as a result of this change. Analysis of respondents surveyed in both November and December 2015 and who responded to either the previous or current version of the question wording, or both, was undertaken. This analysis showed that there was no evidence to indicate that changes in response between months was outside historical patterns. However, the ABS will continue to monitor the impact of the revised question wording and response trends for job search questions.


REGULAR UPDATE OF SEASONAL ADJUSTMENT PROCESS IN NEXT ISSUE

Parameters used in the seasonal adjustment process to account for the following variables:

  • the placement of public holidays;
  • the placement of school holidays; and
  • the start date for data collection in January

will be updated in the next issue of Labour Force, Australia.

The parameters are reviewed at this time each year to ensure that the correct timing of the holidays and start date for collection are reflected in seasonally adjusted and trend data. These parameters are updated separately to the annual seasonal reanalysis because of their importance for January data, however they will also be considered as part of the broader annual seasonal reanalysis of each series scheduled to occur with the February data. The update to the parameters is not anticipated to result in significant revisions to the seasonally adjusted and trend series.


MINOR REVISION TO UNDEREMPLOYMENT DATA

A revision has been made to the number of underemployed persons which is updated quarterly in pdf tables 20 and 21, updated quarterly in spreadsheet tables 22 and 23, and updated monthly in spreadsheet tables 24 and 25 of this publication. The November 2015 estimate was revised to account for those who are usually full-time employed but worked zero hours during the reference week for economic reasons. This group was inadvertently excluded from underemployed persons for the November 2015 reference period only. The inclusion of this group has increased the level of underemployed (and therefore also underutilised) persons by approximately 11,000 in original terms, and had no discernible impact on observed rates of underemployment or underutilisation.

A number of spreadsheet tables containing information on underemployment are included in the detailed quarterly release, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003). These spreadsheet tables (19, 23a and 23b) will have the revision to underemployed persons applied with the February issue of this release, to be published in March 2016.


CHANGE TO RELEASE TIMING OF LABOUR FORCE PRODUCTS

The Independent Technical Review (McCarthy Review) into the ABS's Labour Force Survey (LFS) conducted in 2014 presented a number of recommendations including that the ABS consider "whether or not it is necessary to delay publishing LFS data until early in the week following the current timetable on an ongoing basis or at least when changes are being made to the LFS". The ABS has consulted with stakeholders on this issue and the stakeholders almost unanimously supported the proposal to delay by one week the release of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202) and the related detailed monthly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001) and detailed quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003) products.

As advised in the September 2015 issue of Labour Force, Australia, based on this feedback the ABS will delay the release of these products by one week from the next (January 2016) issue. The delayed release means, for example, that the January 2016 issue of Labour Force, Australia will be released on Thursday 18 February instead of Thursday 11 February.

The revised release dates are included in the Forthcoming Releases section of the Notes page of this issue.

The ABS will review the release timing after 12 months to ensure that the requirements of key clients are being met.