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4720.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Users' Guide, 2008  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/02/2010   
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WORK


OVERVIEW

This chapter provides information on the employment measures that were collected in the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), including:



LABOUR FORCE STATUS

A reduced set of questions from the ABS monthly Labour Force Survey were used to collect information on the labour force status of selected persons aged 15 years and over. Based on the information provided, the person was classified as:
More details on these classifications are provided below.


Employed persons

In the 2008 NATSISS an employed person is someone who, during the week prior to interview:
  • worked for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind, in a job or business or on a farm; or
  • worked without pay in a family business or on a farm; or
  • had a job, business or farm that they were away from for any reason.

In addition to these criteria, a person must have reported usually working one hour or more per week, in all jobs, to be classified as employed. In the 2008 NATSISS, people were only asked about the number of hours they usually work, and not how many hours they worked in the week prior to interview (ie the reference week). For this reason, the number of hours usually worked was used in the classification of a person's labour force status. This differs slightly from the definition of an employed person in the monthly Labour Force Survey, in which a person must have worked for one hour or more in the reference week to be classified as employed.

People aged 15 years and over were asked about work they had done in the week prior to interview. This included work done as part of the Community Development Employment Project (CDEP), but excluded work done as part of the Work for the Dole Scheme. People were asked if, during the week prior to interview, they:
  • did any work at all in a job, business or farm; or
  • did any work without pay in a family business (non-remote areas only); or
  • had a job, business or farm they were away from because of holidays, sickness or any other reason.

People who said yes to any of the above were asked for employment details of their current job. People who did not do any of the above, including people who reported being permanently unable to work and people who were permanently not intending to work, were not classified as employed and so were not asked any further questions about their employment.

Community Development Employment Project (CDEP)

CDEP is a program which allows Indigenous communities to exchange unemployment benefits for opportunities to work or train in activities which are managed by a local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisation.

People who had a job in the week prior to interview were asked if they were on CDEP, and if so, how long they had been on CDEP. People who identified as having more than one job, including CDEP, were asked if their main job (ie the job in which they worked the most hours) was part of CDEP.

Multiple job holders and status in employment

Information about the nature of a person's work was collected for people who had a job in the week prior to interview. For some people, this information resulted in them not being classified as employed. For example, people who reported their main job as being unpaid voluntary work.

People who had a job in the week prior to interview were asked whether they had more than one job in that week. People in non-remote areas were also asked a series of questions to determine their status in employment. A person's status in employment refers to their position in the enterprise in which they work and is defined as follows:
  • Employee: A person who works for a public or private employer and receives remuneration in wages, salary, a retainer fee by their employer while working on a commission basis, tips, piece-rates or payment in kind, or a person who operates his or her own incorporated enterprise with or without hiring employees.
  • Employer: A person who operates his or her own unincorporated economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade, and hires one or more employees.
  • Own Account Worker: A person who operates his or her own unincorporated economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade and hires no employees.
  • Contributing Family Worker: A person who works without pay in an economic enterprise operated by a relative.

People were asked whether, in their main job, they worked:
  • for an employer; or
  • in their own business.

People who worked for an employer were asked if they are paid a wage or salary, or some other form of payment. A wage is an hourly rate paid to an employee, while a salary is a fixed annual amount divided into equal instalments over the year. People who reported being paid a wage or salary were classified as employees. People who were uncertain or reported some other form of employment or form of payment were asked what their working/payment arrangements are in their main job. Response categories included:
  • unpaid voluntary worker;
  • contractor/subcontractor;
  • own business/partnership;
  • commission only;
  • commission with retainer;
  • in a family business without pay;
  • payment in kind;
  • paid by the piece/item produced;
  • wage/salary earner; or
  • other.

Unpaid voluntary workers were not classified as employed and so were not asked any further questions about their current employment. People who reported their working/payment arrangements as any of the following were classified as employees:
  • commission with retainer;
  • payment in kind;
  • paid by the piece/item produced;
  • wage/salary earner; or
  • other.

Contributing family workers are those people who reported working in a family business without pay.

People who reported their working/payment arrangements were contractor/subcontractor, own business/partnership or commission only, as well as anyone who earlier reported that they worked in their own business were asked if:
  • they had any employees in that business; and
  • the business was incorporated.

People who worked in a business that was incorporated were classified as employees. People who worked in a business that was unincorporated were classified as:
  • employers if they had one or more employees; or
  • own account workers if they did not have any employees.

Hours worked and working arrangements

People who had a job in the week prior to interview (excluding unpaid voluntary workers) were asked how many hours they usually work each week in their job or business (or all jobs for those people who had more than one job). Based on the hours usually worked in all jobs, employed people were classified as either:
  • part-time workers - employed people who usually worked less than 35 hours a week (in all jobs); or
  • full-time workers - employed people who usually worked 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs).

People who did not state their usual hours were classified as part-time workers.

People who usually worked one hour or more per week were asked, if they could choose the total number of hours they worked each week, and taking into account how that would affect their income, whether they would prefer to work:
  • fewer hours;
  • about the same number of hours; or
  • more hours than they currently work.

People who usually worked one hour or more per week were asked if their job was permanent or temporary, and whether they would describe their job as casual, full-time, part-time or shift work. Permanent work is ongoing employment, while temporary work is work for a set time. The terms casual, shift work and full/part-time were left open to interpretation. People who reported their job as being full-time or part-time may have been classified differently in the labour force status data item, as it is based on the hours a person usually works per week.

People who had a temporary job were asked which of the following types of contract they were on:
  • fixed term contract (working to a set agreed upon completion date); or
  • seasonal contract (associated with seasonal type industries, for example, tourism or agriculture); or
  • ongoing contract (continual work at an agreed rate of pay and output).

All employed people were asked whether it was possible for them to meet all their cultural responsibilities. The question refers to cultural responsibilities people have outside of work, even if their work is for a cultural organisation. Cultural responsibilities include things like:
  • telling traditional stories;
  • being involved in ceremonies; and
  • attending events, such as funerals or festivals.

Duration of employment

Information was collected on the duration of current employment, age when first started paid employment and total time in paid employment. Employed people were asked how long they have been in their current (main) job or business.

People who were permanently unable to work or permanently not intending to work were asked if they had ever had a job. If they had a job at some point in their lifetime they, along with all other people aged 15 years and over, were asked:
  • how old they were when they first started paid employment; and
  • how much time they had been in paid employment, in their whole life.

Occupation

An occupation is a collection of jobs that are sufficiently similar in their title and tasks, skill level and skill specialisation which have been grouped together for the purposes of classification. Based on a description of the type of work performed by a person in their main job, a code was assigned as their occupation of employment.

For this survey, occupations have been classified according to the:
The major groups of occupations according to ANZSCO are:
  • Managers;
  • Professionals;
  • Technicians and trades workers;
  • Community and personal service workers;
  • Clerical and administrative workers;
  • Sales workers;
  • Machinery operators and drivers; and
  • Labourers.

Industry

An industry is a group of businesses or organisations that undertake similar economic activities to produce goods and services. Based on a description of the type of work performed by a person in their main job, a code was assigned as their industry of employment. Industry data was only collected for people living in non-remote areas.

For this survey, industries have been classified according to the:
The industry divisions according to ANZSIC 2006 are:
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing;
  • Mining;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Electricity, gas, water and waste services;
  • Construction;
  • Wholesale trade;
  • Retail trade;
  • Accommodation and food services;
  • Transport, postal and warehousing;
  • Information media and telecommunications;
  • Financial and insurance services;
  • Rental, hiring and real estate services;
  • Professional, scientific and technical services;
  • Administrative and support services;
  • Public administration and safety;
  • Education and training;
  • Health care and social assistance;
  • Arts and recreation services; and
  • Other services.


Unemployed persons

In the 2008 NATSISS an unemployed person is someone who was not classified as employed and:
  • had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the four weeks prior to interview; and
  • was available for work in the week prior to interview.

Actively looking for work means taking active steps such as contacting an employer or applying for jobs, and does not include reading job advertisements in the newspaper. This differs slightly from the definition of an unemployed person used in the monthly Labour Force Survey, which also includes people who were waiting to start a new job within four weeks from the end of the reference week and who could have started in the reference week if the job had been available then.

A series of questions were asked of people who were not classified as employed, to determine whether they had actively looked for work and were available to start work. People were asked if at any time in the four weeks prior to interview, they had been looking for full-time or part-time work. People who had looked for work were asked if at any time in the four weeks prior to interview, they had done any of the following to find a job:
  • written, phoned or applied in person to an employer for work;
  • answered an advertisement for a job;
  • checked factory notice boards, or used the touchscreens at Centrelink offices;
  • been registered with Centrelink as a jobseeker;
  • checked or registered with an employment agency;
  • advertised or tendered for work; or
  • contacted friends or relatives.

People who had done any of the above were considered to have actively looked for work and were asked whether they would have been able to start work in the week prior to interview, had they found a job. People who would have been able to start work and people who did not know whether they would have been able to start work were classified as unemployed.

Duration of unemployment

Unemployed people were asked how long they had been looking for work and when they last worked for two weeks or more. In remote areas people were asked:
  • the number of weeks or years they had been looking for work; and
  • the number of weeks or years since they last worked for two weeks or more, or whether they had never had a full-time job for two weeks.

In non-remote areas people were asked to provide:
  • the date they began looking for work; and
  • the date they last worked for two weeks or more, or whether they had never had a full-time job for two weeks or more.

This information was converted into the number of weeks spent looking for work and the number of weeks since a person last worked for two weeks or more. Duration of unemployment was determined as follows:
  • the number of weeks spent looking for work for people who had never worked for two weeks or more;
  • the number of weeks spent looking for work for people whose time spent looking for work was less than time since last worked for two weeks or more; and
  • the number of weeks since last worked for two weeks or more for people whose time spent looking for work was greater than time since last worked for two weeks or more.

Difficulties finding work

Unemployed people were asked for all the difficulties/problems they had getting a job, based on the following:
  • transport problems or too far to travel;
  • no jobs at all;
  • no jobs in local area or in line of work;
  • insufficient education, training or skills;
  • own ill health or disability;
  • treated badly because Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander;
  • too young or too old;
  • have criminal record;
  • don't have driver's licence;
  • unable to find suitable child care;
  • other; and
  • no difficulties.

More than one response was allowed. If a person reported more than one difficulty, they were asked which was the main difficulty.


Persons not in the labour force

In the 2008 NATSISS persons not in the labour force are those individuals who were not classified as either employed or unemployed. These people are of interest as they reflect the potential supply of labour. Persons not in the labour force represent a diverse group, including those who have some attachment to the labour force, such as:
  • people who want to work, are actively looking for work, but were not able to start work in the week prior to interview; and
  • people who want to work, but are not actively looking for work.

Persons not in the labour force also includes people who:
  • do not want to work; and
  • are permanently unable to work.

Information was collected on all the reasons people, who were not in the labour force, had not been looking or actively looking for work. People who had not been looking for work at all were asked for all the reasons they had not been looking. People who had not been actively looking for work (eg people who had looked in newspapers but had not taken any active steps to find a job) were asked for all the reasons they had not taken any other steps to find work. More than one response was allowed. Response categories included:
  • has a job to go to;
  • own short-term illness or injury;
  • own long-term health condition or disability;
  • pregnancy;
  • studying/returning to studies;
  • does not need to work;
  • welfare payments/pension may be affected;
  • moved house/holidays;
  • give others a chance;
  • child care;
  • ill health of other than self;
  • other family considerations;
  • employers think too young;
  • employers think too old;
  • lacks necessary schooling, training, skills or experience;
  • difficulties with language or ethnic background;
  • no jobs in locality/line of work;
  • no jobs with suitable hours;
  • no jobs at all;
  • other; and
  • don't know.


Labour force rates and ratios

The 2008 NATSISS collected information on the number of Indigenous people who were employed, unemployed and not in the labour force. This information can be used to calculate rates and ratios, which are commonly used measures for describing labour force data. Rates and ratios provide an indication of the relative size of a group of people who share particular characteristics, when compared to the larger population. The following rates and ratios can be calculated using labour force data:
  • Labour force participation rate - the number of people in the labour force (employed plus unemployed) expressed as a percentage of the total population.
  • Unemployment rate - the number of unemployed people expressed as a percentage of the total labour force.
  • Employment to population ratio - the number of employed people expressed as a percentage of the total population.


EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT SERVICES

Information was collected on the need for, and use of, employment support services such as Centrelink, Mission Australia and the Job Network. People aged 15-64 years, who were not looking for work in the four weeks prior to interview (including people who were employed) were asked whether they had been looking for work at any time in the 12 months prior to interview. People who had looked for work in the 12 months prior to interview, including unemployed people aged 15-64 years, were asked if they used employment support services to help them look for work or get a job. People who did not use employment services were asked of they needed any, and if so, the reasons why they did not use them. More than one response was allowed.

Response categories included:
  • cost;
  • too far away/distance;
  • no transport;
  • services not available;
  • language difficulties (e.g. problems understanding service providers, problems being understood by service providers, problems understanding and filling in forms);
  • lack of Indigenous liaison officers;
  • service not culturally appropriate;
  • treated badly because Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander; and
  • other.


COMPARISON TO THE 2002 NATSISS

The 2002 NATSISS collected information on employment for people aged 15 years and over. The following information was collected in 2008, but not in 2002:
  • status in employment in main job (non-remote only);
  • whether current job is:
  • permanent or temporary;
  • fixed term, ongoing or seasonal;
  • casual, shiftwork or full/part-time;
  • occupation and industry in main job;
  • time in current job;
  • whether would like more, same or fewer hours;
  • age when commenced paid employment; and
  • total time spent in paid employment.

The following information was collected in the 2002 NATSISS but not in 2008:
  • employment sector;
  • expected future duration in current job; and
  • whether would like a job (persons not in the labour force);

In 2002 information on whether a person had more than one job is only available for employed people in non-community areas, while this information is available for all employed people in 2008. In 2008, there are more output categories than in 2002, for the following data items:
  • all difficulties and the main difficulty unemployed people had finding work; and
  • all reasons persons not in the labour force were not looking for a job.

More detailed information on the 2002 survey data is provided in the output data item list, available from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Data Reference Package, 2002 (cat. no. 4714.0.55.002).

For information on differences in collection methodology between the 2008 NATSISS and the monthly Labour Force Survey see the 'Comparison to the monthly Labour Force Survey' section of the Appendix in National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 (cat. no. 4714.0).


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