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6310.0 - Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, Australia, Aug 2008 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/04/2009   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 The statistics in this publication were compiled from data collected in the Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership Survey conducted throughout Australia in August 2008 as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). Respondents to the LFS who fell within the scope of the supplementary survey were asked further questions.

2 The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks, which also apply to supplementary surveys. LFS also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing which are relevant to both the monthly LFS and supplementary surveys.


CONCEPTS, SOURCES AND METHODS

3 The conceptual framework used in Australia's LFS aligns closely with the standards and guidelines set out in Resolutions of the International Conference of Labour Statisticians.

4 The conceptual framework for measures of mean earnings and median earnings aligns closely with the standards and guidelines set out in the System of National Accounts 1993, and resolutions of the International Conference of Labour Statisticians.

5 Descriptions of the underlying concepts and structure of Australia's labour force statistics and the concepts of earnings statistics, and the sources and methods used in compiling these estimates, are presented in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001).


SCOPE

6 The scope of the LFS is restricted to people aged 15 years and over and excludes the following people:

  • members of the permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from census and population estimates
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants).

7 Students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, homes for people with disabilities), and inmates of prisons are excluded from all supplementary surveys.

8 This supplementary survey was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded approximately 120,000 people living in very remote parts of Australia who would otherwise have been within the scope of the survey. The exclusion of these people will have only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except the Northern Territory where such people account for around 23% of the population.

9 In addition to those already excluded from the LFS, employees who worked solely for payment in kind in their main job are excluded from this survey.


COVERAGE

10 The estimates in this publication relate to people covered by the survey in August 2008. In the LFS, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling and hence has only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.


SAMPLE SIZE

11 Supplementary surveys are not always conducted on the full LFS sample. Since August 1994 the sample for supplementary surveys has been restricted to no more than seven-eighths of the LFS sample.

12 The LFS sample size in August 2008 was approximately one-third smaller than the sample size in August 2007. This is due to an 11% sample reduction that was implemented from November 2007 to June 2008 based on the 2006 sample design, and an additional 24% sample reduction implemented in July 2008. Detailed information about the sample reduction is provided in Information Paper: Labour Force Survey Sample Design, Nov 2007 (Second edition) (cat. no. 6269.0).

13 The reduced sample will still be representative, with selections made across all parts of Australia.

14 The initial sample for the August 2008 LFS consisted of 27,291 private dwelling households and special dwelling units. Of the 21,767 private dwelling households and special dwelling units that remained in the survey after sample loss (e.g. households selected in the survey which had no residents in scope for the LFS, vacant or derelict dwellings and dwellings under construction), approximately 20,647, or 94.9% were fully responding to the Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership Survey. The number of completed interviews obtained from these private dwellings and special dwelling units (after taking into account scope, coverage and sub-sampling exclusions) was 19,367.


RELIABILITY OF THE ESTIMATES

15 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:
  • Sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For more information see the Technical Note.
  • Non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents and interviewers and errors made in coding and processing data. These inaccuracies may occur in any enumeration, whether it be a full count or a sample. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers and effective processing procedures.


SEASONAL FACTORS

16 The estimates are based on information collected in the survey month and, due to seasonal factors, may not be representative of other months of the year.


CLASSIFICATIONS USED

17 From 2006, occupation data are classified according to the ANZSCO - Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, First Edition, 2006 (cat. no. 1220.0). This new classification replaces ASCO - Australian Standard Classification of Occupations, Second Edition, 1997 (cat. no. 1220.0). Data classified according to ASCO can be obtained on request.

18 Also from 2006, industry data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0). This new classification replaces the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 1993 (cat. no. 1292.0). Data classified according to ANZSIC 1993 can be obtained on request.

19 Country of birth data are classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), Second Edition (cat. no. 1269.0).


NOTES ON ESTIMATES

20 Information relating to main job earnings and second job earnings not provided by the respondent have been imputed. In August 2008 there were 1,775 cases where information relating to main job earnings was not provided by the respondent, and 65 cases where information relating to second job earnings was not provided by the respondent. Where this was the only information missing from the record, a value has been imputed based on answers provided from another respondent with similar characteristics (referred to as the donor). Donor records were selected for main job imputation by matching information on sex, age, state or territory of usual residence and labour force characteristics (full-time or part-time in main job, industry, occupation, hours worked in main job) of the person with missing information. Donor records were selected for second job imputation by matching information on sex, age, state or territory of usual residence, area of usual residence and owner manager status. Depending on which values were to be imputed, donors were chosen from the pool of individual records with complete information for the block of questions where the missing information occurred.

21 Care should be taken when using estimates of mean weekly earnings or median weekly earnings. Employees who did not draw a wage or salary are excluded from estimates of mean weekly earnings or median weekly earnings. This group consists of people working in their own incorporated enterprise.

22 Employees (excluding OMIEs) are classified as 'With paid leave entitlements' if they said 'yes' to either of the following questions:
  • "Does your employer/business provide you with paid sick leave?"
  • "Does your employer/business provide you with paid holiday leave?" In all other cases, employees (excluding OMIEs) are categorised as 'Without paid leave entitlements'.


COMPARABILITY OF TIME SERIES

23 Revisions are made to population benchmarks for the LFS after each five-yearly Census of Population and Housing. The estimates from the 2008 survey are based on the revision made in February 2004 to take account of the results of the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. Estimates from supplementary surveys conducted from and including February 2004 are therefore based on these 2001 population benchmarks.

24 Care should be taken when comparing movements in mean weekly earnings and employment benefits estimates that include the July 1991 and August 1997 surveys. The usual period between surveys is 12 months; however, in 1991 the elapsed time was 11 months (August 1990 to July 1991), and in 1992 it was 13 months (July 1991 to August 1992). In 1997, the elapsed time was 2 years (August 1995 to August 1997).

25 A change was made in 2002 to the method used to determine whether an employee works full-time or part-time in their main job. Prior to 2002, 'full-time or part-time employees in main job' was derived from a self-perception question in which all employees were asked 'Is your job full-time or part-time?'. Following the redesign in 2001 of the LFS questionnaire, actual hours worked in main job in the reference week is now collected. From August 2002, data on hours worked in main job are used to derive full-time or part-time status of employees in main job.

26 This approach is consistent with the method used in the LFS to derive full-time or part-time status in all jobs. For further details see Glossary entries 'Full-time employees in main job' and 'Full-time workers'.

27 In 2007 there was a change to the data item 'Whether considered job to be casual'. From 2007, all employees (excluding OMIES) were asked if they were employed as a casual. In 2006 and previous years, owner managers of incorporated enterprises and employees who received both paid sick and paid holiday leave were not asked if they were employed as a casual. As a result of this change there was a break in series. Users therefore need to exercise care when comparing the number of people who considered their job to be casual in this publication with publications prior to August 2007.


SALARY SACRIFICE

28 The estimates of earnings, in this publication, have been produced in accordance with the revised conceptual framework for measures of employee remuneration, as outlined in Information paper: Changes to ABS Measure of Employee Remuneration, Australia 2006 (cat. no. 6313.0).

29 From 2007, as a result of the change in concept of earnings being measured, employees were asked to include salary sacrifice when estimating their earnings. In previous years, there has not been any explicit reference to the treatment of salary sacrifice. However, it is probable that some employees were already including amounts of salary sacrifice in their estimates of earnings, depending upon how their pay was reported. This change has resulted in a break in series. Users therefore need to exercise care when comparing the earnings of employees in this publication with previous releases.


IMPUTATION

30 The current imputation method has been used since the 2005 survey. A similar method of imputation was used for the 2004 survey. The differences between the 2004 and current imputation methods are that donors are matched where possible on a finer level of detail, and second job earnings are now imputed whereas in 2004 they were not. These changes in methodology are expected to have improved the imputed earnings data at the unit record level, but should not have had much impact on aggregate estimates.

31 Prior to 2004 imputation was not used, hence employees whose weekly earnings could not be determined were excluded from estimates of mean or median weekly earnings. Care should therefore be taken when comparing earnings data from 2004 onwards with earnings data prior to 2004. To compare the change in method from 2003 to 2004 please see paragraph 28 of the Explanatory Notes in Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, August 2004 (cat. no. 6310.0).

32 Prior to 2004, weekly earnings could not be determined for a number of persons. This group included persons refusing to answer questions about their weekly earnings. Such cases are now imputed.


COMPARABILITY WITH MONTHLY LFS STATISTICS

33 Due to differences in the scope and sample size of this supplementary survey and that of the LFS, the estimation procedure may lead to some small variations between labour force estimates from this survey and those from the LFS.


COMPARABILITY WITH EMPLOYER-BASED AVERAGE WEEKLY EARNINGS SURVEY

34 Caution should be exercised when comparing estimates of mean weekly earnings in this publication with estimates of average weekly earnings included in the quarterly publication Average Weekly Earnings, Australia (cat. no. 6302.0), which are compiled from a survey of employers. There are important differences in the concepts, scope and methodology of the two surveys.

35 Estimates of average weekly earnings from the quarterly publication Average Weekly Earnings, Australia (cat. no. 6302.0), exclude amounts salary sacrificed. From 2007, amounts salary sacrificed are included in the estimates of mean and median weekly earnings for the Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership survey.

36 The quarterly Survey of Average Weekly Earnings excludes employees in the industries of Agriculture, forestry and fishing (ANZSIC 1993 Division A) and Private households employing staff (ANZSIC 1993 Subdivision 97), both of which are included in this household survey. The quarterly Survey of Average Weekly Earnings collects information from employers who complete a mailed questionnaire with details of their employees' total gross earnings and the total number of employees. For this household survey, respondents are either interviewed personally, or another adult member of their household responds on their behalf.

37 The methodology used in this household survey may result in non-sampling error not evident in surveys of employers (and vice versa). This may account for some of the differences between the results of the two surveys.


PREVIOUS SURVEYS OF WEEKLY EARNINGS

38 Similar surveys have been conducted annually since August 1975, except 1991 when the survey was conducted in July, and in 1996 when the survey was not conducted.

39 Prior to 1998, this publication was titled Weekly Earnings of Employees (Distribution), Australia (cat. no. 6310.0). The change in title reflects the inclusion of employment benefits and trade union membership data previously released in other publications.


PREVIOUS SURVEYS OF EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

40 Results of previous surveys on employment benefits have been published in:

PREVIOUS SURVEYS OF TRADE UNION MEMBERS

41 Information on trade union membership was first collected in 1976, then biennially in its current format, from 1986 to 1992. From this time it was conducted annually (with limited data available every second year). Results of previous surveys were published in:
42 Limited data on trade union membership have also been published in:

NEXT SURVEY

43 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again in August 2009.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

44 ABS surveys draw extensively on information provided by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Spreadsheets

45 Additional tables are available in spreadsheet format with time series data. These tables will be made available with the publication from the ABS web site.


CURFs

46 It is expected that a confidentialised unit record file (CURF) will be produced from the Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership Survey subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician. The Basic CURF will be available on CD-ROM, via the ABS Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) and the ABS Data Laboratory (ABSDL). The Expanded CURF will only be accessible through the RADL and ABSDL. The CURF will be available in SAS, STATA and SPSS format. A full range of up-to-date information about the availability of ABS CURFs and about applying for access to CURFs is available via the ABS web site (see Services - CURF Microdata). For enquiries regarding CURFs, contact ABS CURF Management Unit via email at microdata.access@abs.gov.au or telephone 6252 7714.


RELATED PUBLICATIONS

47 Other publications which may be of interest include:
48 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the Statistics Page on the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.


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