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6102.0.55.001 - Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, Apr 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/04/2007   
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CHAPTER 21.12. RETRENCHMENT AND REDUNDANCY

INTRODUCTION

21.12.1 This survey was first conducted in July 1997 and again in July 2001. It collected information on the labour force status and other characteristics of people who had been retrenched or made redundant in the three year period prior to 30 June in the survey year. The ABS does not plan to conduct this survey again. Information on this topic is also available from the two-yearly Labour Mobility Survey (see Chapter 21.7).

21.12.2 Results from the Retrenchment and Redundancy survey provide information on the employment consequences of structural change in the economy, and are used for policy development and planning of services to workers who have been retrenched or made redundant.

21.12.3 This section describes only those aspects of the methodology that are unique to this survey, and hence should be used in conjunction with the overview part of this chapter, which outlines the survey methodology used in supplementary surveys.

SURVEY OUTPUT

21.12.4 Data from the survey were published in
Retrenchment and Redundancy, Australia (cat. no. 6266.0). More detailed data are available on request.

21.12.5 Data from the survey relate to people aged 18 to 64. The main population of interest was people who had been retrenched or made redundant in the three years to 30 June in the survey year. Estimates are available on an original basis only (i.e. not seasonally adjusted) and include:


Socio-demographic information

Sex, age, marital status, relationship in household, family, geographic region, educational attainment, birthplace and year of arrival in Australia.

People who had held a job in the three years prior to 30 June

Current labour force status, number of times retrenched in three years prior to 30 June.

People who had been retrenched in the three years prior to 30 June

Details of job most recently retrenched from including occupation, industry, full-time or part-time status, permanent or casual status, sector, and duration of employment; details of the retrenchment including reasons for retrenchment and whether given notice; and details of advice sought after retrenchment including agencies visited, assistance provided; whether attending an educational institution; and current labour force status.

People who had been retrenched in the three years prior to 30 June and currently employed

Details of main job including occupation, industry, full-time or part-time status, sector, permanent or casual status; and differences between current job and job retrenched from including whether changed occupation, whether changed industry, and whether changed full-time or part-time status.

People who had been retrenched in the three years prior to 30 June and currently unemployed

Type of work sought (full-time or part-time), duration of current period of unemployment, active steps to find work, whether would move if offered a suitable job, difficulties experienced finding work, offers of employment, number of spells of looking for work, and total time spent looking for work in previous 12 months.

21.12.6 Data collected in the survey are compiled according to concepts and definitions outlined in Chapter 2 (Currently economically active population), Chapter 3 (Employment), Chapter 4 (Employment measures and classifications), Chapter 6 (Unemployment) and Chapter 16 (Other classifications used in labour statistics).

SCOPE

21.12.7 The scope of this survey was restricted to people aged 18 to 64 years. The standard scope restrictions for supplementary surveys outlined in the overview part of Chapter 21 also apply to this survey.

COMPARISON WITH LABOUR MOBILITY SURVEY

21.12.8 There are two Labour Force Supplementary surveys which collect information about the number of people retrenched from their job: Retrenchment and Redundancy and Labour Mobility. Although both surveys present information on retrenched people, there are important differences in methodology which limit comparability of data. The differences include:
Scope

The Retrenchment and Redundancy survey collected information from people aged 18-64 years. The Labour Mobility survey collects information from people aged 15-69 years.

Reference period
The Retrenchment and Redundancy survey provided estimates of the number of people retrenched in the three years prior to the survey. The Labour Mobility survey provides estimates the number of people retrenched in the year prior to the survey.

Type of information collected

The Retrenchment and Redundancy survey collected data on the number of people retrenched, characteristics of the retrenchment such as why they were retrenched and how much notice they were given, information about the job they were retrenched from and their current status in the labour force. The survey measured the number of people retrenched during the reference period rather than the total number of retrenchments (for people retrenched more than once during the reference period, details of the most recent retrenchment were collected).

The Labour Mobility Survey collects information about employment changes of people during the reference period. Data is collected on the number of retrenchments in the process of asking why a job ceased.

21.12.9 An issue which affects the data quality is how well respondents are able to remember details of the period they are being asked about. The ABS has not conducted any studies to try to assess the extent of any recall bias in the Retrenchment and Redundancy Survey. However recall bias is a well-known phenomenon in surveys of this nature, and the relative bias tends to increase as the length of the recall period increases. As the recall period in the Retrenchment and Redundancy Survey is three years (compared with one year for the Labour Mobility Survey), it is possible that there is more recall bias in the Retrenchment and Redundancy than in the Labour Mobility Survey. The nature of recall bias includes the failure to recall events (particularly the less significant ones), and the tendency to recall events as being more recent than they actually were.

21.12.10 The Labour Mobility survey is a better source of time series data, since it provides a consistent time series going back over 20 years, whereas the Retrenchment and Redundancy Survey was only conducted twice (in 1997 and 2001).


DATA COMPARABILITY OVER TIME

21.12.11 In order to provide a high degree of consistency and comparability over time, changes to survey methods, survey concepts, data item definitions, frequency of collection, and analysis methods are made as infrequently as possible. Over the time the survey was conducted there were some changes to the scope and sample size. These changes mean that the standard errors for the survey differ over time. The effect on estimates of the changes in scope is considered to have been small. Changes affecting the Labour Force Survey may also have affected this survey. Such changes are outlined in
Chapter 20 and are not repeated here.


FURTHER INFORMATION

21.12.12
For further details contact the Labour Market Statistics Section, on Canberra (02) 6252 7206 or email <labour.statistics@abs.gov.au>.

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