**TECHNICAL NOTE** DATA QUALITY

**RELIABILITY OF ESTIMATES**

**1 **As the estimates in this publication are based on information relating to a sample of employers rather than a full enumeration, they are subject to sampling variability. That is, they may differ from the estimates that would have been produced if the information had been obtained from all employers. This difference, called **sampling error**, should not be confused with inaccuracy that may occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents or in processing by the ABS. Such inaccuracy is referred to as **non-sampling error** and may occur in any enumeration whether it be a full count or sample. Efforts have been made to reduce non-sampling error by careful design of questionnaires, detailed checking of returns and quality control of processing.

**2 **The sampling error associated with any estimate can be estimated from the sample results. One measure of sampling error is given by the **standard error** which indicates the degree to which an estimate may vary from the value which would have been obtained from a full enumeration (the ‘true value’). There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate differs from the true value by less than one standard error, and about 19 chances in 20 that the difference will be less than two standard errors.

**3 **An example of the use of a standard error on levels is as follows. If the estimated number of job vacancies was 25,000 with a standard error of 2,500, then there would be about two chances in three that a full enumeration would have given an estimate in the range 22,500 to 27,500 and about 19 chances in 20 that it would be in the range 20,000 to 30,000.

**4 **An example of the use of a standard error for a quarterly change estimate is as follows. If the estimated standard error for a quarterly change estimate of job vacancies was 1,000 and the quarterly change estimate between two quarters was 4,500, then there would be about two chances in three that a full enumeration would have given a quarterly change estimate in the range +3,500 to +5,500 and about 19 chances in 20 that it would be in the range +2,500 to +6,500.

**5 **Quarterly movements in estimates of job vacancies are considered to be statistically significant where they exceed two standard errors.

**6 **Another measure of the sampling error is the **relative standard error,** which is obtained by expressing the standard error as a percentage of the estimate. Level estimates with a relative standard error between 25% and 50%, denoted by an asterisk in this publication, are subject to sampling variability generally considered to be too high for most practical purposes and should be used with caution. Level estimates with a relative standard error of 50% or more, denoted by a double asterisk, are considered to be too unreliable for general use.

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