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6102.0.55.001 - Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2013  
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This document was added 12/13/2013.



CHAPTER 20. LABOUR FORCE SURVEY

INTRODUCTION

20.1 The ABS has conducted the Labour Force Survey since 1960. In February 1978 the frequency of the survey was changed from quarterly to monthly. The content of the survey has remained broadly the same since its introduction, but is periodically updated to ensure that it is the most appropriate for the provision of accurate labour force statistics.

20.2 The purpose of the Labour Force Survey is to provide timely information on the labour market activity of the usually resident civilian population of Australia aged 15 years and over. The statistics of most interest are the unemployment rate, underemployment rate, labour force participation rate, employment to population ratio and estimates of the number of employed, unemployed and underemployed people. The rate of change in the number of people employed is a key indicator of economic growth. The unemployment rate (the percentage of the labour force that is unemployed) and the underemployment rate (the percentage of the labour force that is underemployed) are the main measures of underutilised labour, and the participation rate (the percentage of the population in the labour force) reflects changes in total available labour availability.


SURVEY OUTPUT

20.3 Data are compiled according to concepts and definitions outlined in Chapters 2 to 7. Estimates are published monthly in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). More detailed data are published one week later in Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery, and in the quarterly release Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003). Other detailed estimates are available on request.

20.4 An expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) for the years 2008 to 2010 is available via the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL). The Longitudinal CURF is created from the monthly Labour Force Surveys along with data collected from labour supplementary surveys and multipurpose household surveys conducted between January 2008 and December 2010. It includes a range of data to enable users to better understand the dynamics of the labour market and changes in individuals' employment, unemployment and moves in and out of the labour force. For more information on CURF, see Mircrodata: Longitudinal Labour Force, Australia, 2008–10 (cat. no. 6602.0).

20.5 Historical estimates can be found in Labour Force Historical Timeseries, Australia (cat. no. 6204.0.55.001).

20.6 The survey output includes:

    Socio-demographic information
    Sex, age, Indigenous status, social marital status, relationship in household, family type, participation in school and tertiary education (people aged 15-24), birthplace and year of arrival in Australia, state or territory of usual residence, and region of usual residence.

    Persons in the labour force
    Labour force status, unemployment rate, labour underutilisation rate*, participation rate and gross flows (changes) in labour force status.

    Persons employed
    Status in employment in main job*, full-time or part-time status, hours actually worked in all jobs, hours actually worked in main job, hours usually worked in all jobs, aggregate monthly hours worked, whether expects to be with current employer in 12 months, underemployment*, reason for working less than 35 hours in the reference week, occupation in main job* and industry in main job*.

    Persons unemployed
    Whether looking for full-time or part-time work, reason for ceasing last job, industry and occupation of last job*, duration of unemployment, whether active steps taken to find work, and whether looking for first job.

    Persons not in the labour force
    Whether looking for work (actively, not actively), permanently unable to work, institutionalised.

    * These data are released for the months of February, May, August and November only.

20.7 Seasonally adjusted and trend (i.e. smoothed seasonally adjusted) data are available for selected series including labour force status; unemployment; labour force participation rate; industry of employment; and long term unemployed. See Chapter 17 for further explanation of these terms.


SCOPE

20.8 The Labour Force Survey includes all usual residents of Australia aged 15 years and over except:
    • members of the permanent defence forces;
    • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from census and estimated population counts;
    • overseas residents in Australia; and
    • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia.

20.9 From July 1993, Jervis Bay Territory has been excluded from the scope of the Labour Force Survey

20.10 Coverage rules are applied to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling, and hence has only one chance of selection. The chance of a person being enumerated at two separate dwellings in the one survey is considered to be negligible. People who are away from their usual residence for six weeks or less at the time of interview are enumerated at their usual residence (relevant information may be obtained from other usual residents present at the time of the survey).


SURVEY METHODOLOGY

20.11 The majority of Labour Force Survey information is obtained by specially trained interviewers, using face-to-face and telephone interview collection methods, from the occupants of selected dwellings. Interviews are generally conducted during the two weeks beginning on the Sunday between the 5th and the 11th of each month. Most information obtained relates to the week before the interview (referred to as the reference week). Selected dwellings remain in the survey for eight consecutive months. Information about each household member in scope of the Labour Force Survey is generally collected from one adult using the 'Any Responsible Adult' methodology (described in paragraph 17.12, Chapter 17.

20.12 Prior to August 1996, all interviews were conducted face-to-face at selected dwellings. Over the period August 1996 to February 1997, the ABS introduced telephone interviewing. The first interview is generally conducted in person (face-to-face), whilst subsequent interviews are conducted by telephone if this is acceptable to the respondent. Telephone interviewing has been shown to provide data of a quality comparable to that obtained from personal interviews, but requires less interviewer travel time, and hence, lowers the costs of the survey.

20.13 From October 2003 to August 2004, computer assisted interviewing was progressively introduced for the Labour Force Survey. Under computer assisted interviewing, interviewers record responses directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer, rather than using the traditional 'pen and paper' method.

20.14 Online self-completion of the Labour Force Survey was introduced in December 2012, with one rotation group initially being offered the option of self-completing the survey on-line in place of a face-to-face or telephone interview. The online self completion offer was expanded to 50% of private dwellings in each of the two incoming rotation groups from May 2013 to August 2013. Between September 2013 and April 2014 the ABS is expanding offer of online self-completion from 50% to 100% of private dwellings in each incoming rotation group. Interviewer collection (both face-to-face and via telephone) continues to be available for those respondents where it is inappropriate for operational, technological or personal reasons.

20.15 Other collection methods are used in special circumstances. A paper self-enumeration form may be used where it is not possible for a computer assisted interview to take place - for instance, where contact cannot be made with the occupants of selected dwellings or when a respondent refuses to be interviewed but will complete a form. A customised form is also used in very remote Indigenous communities.

20.16 Interviewer workloads are completed and returned for processing according to a strict timetable. Interviewers are required to make a number of attempts to contact a household before recording a non-contact (non-response). Response rates average around 97%.

SAMPLE DESIGN

20.17 A multi-stage probability sample design is used. The sample is drawn from the Population Survey Master Sample and has three components: a sample of private dwellings, a sample of discrete Indigenous communities, and a sample of non-private dwellings (i.e. hotels, motels, hospitals, retirement villages, etc.). The final stage selection unit is the dwelling.

SIZE AND ALLOCATION

20.18 The Labour Force Survey is designed to provide reliable estimates of the key labour force statistics for both the whole of Australia and each state and territory. The design also yields estimates for a number of broad regions within states.

20.19 Between February 1964 and February 1972 all households in Australia had the same probability of selection in the Labour Force Survey (1 in 100), regardless of state or territory. From May 1972, different sampling fractions applied for each state and territory. The table below shows the sampling fractions for the Labour Force Survey from the 1971 post-Census design through to the 2011 design.

LABOUR FORCE SURVEY SAMPLE - SAMPLING FRACTIONS

New South
Wales
Victoria
Queensland
South
Australia
Western
Australia
Tasmania
Northern
Territory
Australian
Capital
Territory

1971 redesign
1 in 200
1 in 200
1 in 140
1 in 100
1 in 90
1 in 60
1 in 100
1 in 200
1976 redesign
1 in 200
1 in 200
1 in 140
1 in 100
1 in 90
1 in 60
1 in 100
1 in 100
1981 redesign
1 in 200
1 in 200
1 in 140
1 in 100
1 in 100
1 in 60
1 in 100
1 in 100
1986 redesign
1 in 230
1 in 230
1 in 160
1 in 115
1 in 115
1 in 70
1 in 115
1 in 115
1991 redesign
1 in 277
1 in 242
1 in 195
1 in 139
1 in 146
1 in 75
1 in 75
1 in 75
1996 redesign
1 in 300
1 in 257
1 in 222
1 in 147
1 in 160
1 in 83
1 in 85
1 in 85
2001 redesign
2006 redesign
2008 sample reduction
1 in 321
1 in 380
1 in 499
1 in 270
1 in 336
1 in 441
1 in 239
1 in 315
1 in 415
1 in 149
1 in 184
1 in 241
1 in 165
1 in 246
1 in 324
1 in 90
1 in 103
1 in 135
1 in 98
1 in 54
1 in 68
1 in 86
1 in 117
1 in 154
2009 sample reinstatement
2011 redesign
1 in 380
1 in 419
1 in 336
1 in 390
1 in 315
1 in 369
1 in 184
1 in 209
1 in 246
1 in 295
1 in 103
1 in 99
1 in 54
1 in 52
1 in 117
1 in 149


20.20 The current Labour Force Survey sample was selected using information collected in the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. The new sample has been designed with the aim of achieving similar levels of sampling error as the target levels established for the 2006 sample design. Generally the previous design achieved lower levels of sampling error than the sample was designed for, allowing for a reduction in the 2011 sample size to match the 2006 targets.

20.21 Under the current sample design, the sampling fractions yield a sample size of approximately 27,000 dwellings each month. This results in approximately 52,000 people responding to the survey, covering about 1 in 312 (0.32%) of the population aged 15 years and over. For further information, refer to Information Paper: Labour Force Survey Sample Design, May 2013.

20.22 There was a 24% reduction in the LFS sample size for the period July 2008 to August 2009, relative to the June 2008 sample size. The sample reduction was reinstated progressively between September and December 2009, with December 2009 estimates being the first produced under the fully reinstated sample. Extra care should be taken when using estimates from this period due to increased sampling error.

SAMPLE ROTATION

20.23 Since the monthly Labour Force Survey commenced in 1978, one-eighth of the sample has been replaced each month. The sample can be thought of as comprising eight sub-samples (or rotation groups), with each sub-sample remaining in the survey for eight months. A new rotation group is introduced each month to replace an outgoing rotation group. This replacement sample generally comes from the same geographic area as the outgoing one.

20.24 Sample rotation enables reliable measures of monthly change in labour force statistics to be compiled, as seven-eighths of the sample from one month are retained for the following survey. At the same time, the sample rotation procedure ensures that no dwelling is retained in the sample for more than eight months and that the sample reflects changes over time in the dwelling population (such as construction of new dwellings).

20.25 The component of the sample that is common from one month to the next makes it possible to match the characteristics of most of the people in those dwellings: this group is referred to as the 'matched sample'. The availability of this matched sample permits the production of estimates of 'gross flows' — the number of people who change labour force status between successive months.


SAMPLE RESELECTION


20.26 A new Labour Force Survey sample is selected every five years after each Census of Population and Housing to ensure that the survey continues to accurately reflect the socio-demographic distribution of the Australian population. The next sample redesign, which will take into account results from the 2016 Census, is expected to be implemented in 2017-18.


ESTIMATION

20.27 The estimation method used in the Labour Force Survey is composite estimation, which was introduced in May 2007. Composite estimation combines data collected in the previous six months with current month's data to produce the current month's estimates, thereby exploiting the high correlation between overlapping samples across months in the Labour Force Survey. The Composite estimation process combines the seven months of data by applying different factors according to length of time in the survey. These factors sum to unity for the current month, and once they are applied, the data are weighted to align with current month population benchmarks. For more information on composite estimation see Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics, 2007 (cat. no. 6292.0).

20.28 Prior to the introduction of Composite estimation, the estimation method used in the Labour Force Survey was generalised regression, which only used the current month's data.


BENCHMARKS

20.29 Estimates of the number of people employed, unemployed and not in the labour force are calculated in such a way as to add up to independent estimates of the civilian population aged 15 years and over (population benchmarks) for age groups, sex and regions. There are two sets of benchmarks used in the Labour Force Survey. The first set of benchmarks are classified by state or territory of usual residence, part of state of usual residence (capital city, rest of state), age and sex. The second set are classified by statistical region of usual residence and sex (known as 'regional benchmarks'). The use of regional benchmarks improves the quality of estimates for Labour Force Survey regions, with negligible impact on estimates at national, state and territory levels.

20.30 Since the most recently released Estimated Resident Population (ERP) estimates lag the current time period for labour force survey estimates by nine months, the population benchmarks are initially derived as short-term projections of the most recent ERP estimates, which are based on Census of Population and Housing data, adjusted for under-enumeration and updated for births, deaths, interstate migration and net permanent and long-term migration. The short-term projections are based on the historical pattern of each population component - births, deaths, interstate migration and net overseas migration.

20.31 Prior to July 2010 the Labour Force Survey population benchmarks were revised every five years following the release of the final population estimates from the Census of Population and Housing. Benchmark revisions that incorporated Net Overseas Migration revisions to ERP were released in July 2010 (for the period July 2006 to June 2010) and November 2012 (for the period July 2008 to October 2012). For more information, refer to the article Rebenchmarking of Labour Force Series in the November 2012 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

20.32 The population benchmarks for the LFS are currently updated at six monthly intervals. This is done to take advantage of preliminary population estimates which become available to replace the short-term projections. In addition, ERP rebasing is undertaken every five years to incorporate additional information from the latest available Census data. From February 2009 labour force estimates have been compiled using population benchmarks based on the results of the 2006 Census. The LFS population benchmarks are expected to take account of the 2011 Census based ERP from early 2014.


TIME SERIES ESTIMATES

20.33 Both seasonally adjusted and trend estimates are produced for key series from this survey.

Seasonal adjustment


20.34 Many monthly series have been seasonally adjusted from February 1978 and are available in a range of products. Quarterly historical series (from August 1966) are available in 6204.0.55.001. Concurrent seasonal adjustment was introduced from the December 2003 survey, replacing the annual forward factor method. At the same time, other improvements were made to the seasonal adjustment methodology to better handle the moving January interview start date and the proximity of Easter to the April survey period.

20.35 Concurrent seasonal adjustment uses original data up to and including the current month (or quarter for quarterly series) to estimate seasonal factors for the current and all previous months (or quarters). Seasonally adjusted estimates from this method are usually closer on average to their final values, as any change in seasonality is observed sooner. The seasonal factors are further reviewed annually to take account of each additional year’s original data if necessary. Revisions under this method are more frequent (every month for a monthly series), although the degree of revision is generally smaller than with the forward factor method of adjustment (where revisions are only made annually). For more information on concurrent seasonal adjustment, see Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics, 2003 (cat. no. 6292.0).

Trend estimates


20.36 Trend estimates are available for many series dating back to February 1978. Trend estimates are produced using a centred 13-term Henderson moving average of the seasonally adjusted series for monthly estimates, and a centred 7-term Henderson moving average for quarterly estimates (e.g. employment by industry). Centred symmetric moving averages cannot be used to directly estimate smoothed series values all the way to the end of the series, since there are insufficient observations available for the moving average calculations. The ABS uses non-symmetric moving averages to determine estimates of trend at the current end of the series. Revisions of trend estimates occur as data become available for later periods (these revisions are mainly because of the non-symmetric moving averages at the end of the series, but also because of concurrent seasonal adjustment). For further information, refer to Information Paper: A Guide to Interpreting Time Series - Monitoring Trends, 2003 (cat. no. 1349.0).


ESTIMATES OF
GROSS FLOWS

20.37 Because a high proportion of the private dwellings selected each month remain in the sample for the following month, it is possible to match the characteristics of most of the people in those dwellings from one month to the next. This makes it possible to record any changes in the labour force status of these people, and hence to produce estimates of 'gross flows' - the number of people who change labour force status between successive months.

20.38 Gross flow estimates relate only to those people in private dwellings for whom information was obtained in two successive surveys. The procedures used to select people in non-private dwellings preclude the possibility of matching such people who may be included in successive surveys. Also, the mobility of the population and non-response in either or both surveys means that a proportion of people in private dwellings who are included in the sample in successive months cannot be matched.

20.39 Overall, those who can be matched (in the private dwelling sample) from one month to the previous month represent about 80% of all people in the survey. About two-thirds of the remaining (unmatched) 20% are likely to have characteristics similar to those in the matched group, but the characteristics of the other third are likely to be somewhat different. The expansion factors used in calculating the estimates are those applying to the second of each pair of months. The estimates are not adjusted to account for the unmatched sample component.

20.40 Although it is not possible to provide gross flow estimates for all people in the survey, the estimates derived from matched records are a useful guide to the proportion of the movements between categories which underlie the changes in monthly levels. When comparing flows for different periods it is important to take into account the population represented by the matched sample. Gross flow estimates are available monthly in a data cube in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) - see GM1 - Labour Force Statistics and Gross Changes (flows) by Sex, State and Age.
20.41 While every effort is made to reduce non-sampling errors to a minimum, any such errors affecting labour force status will tend to accumulate in the gross flow statistics. The estimates are also subject to sampling variability.


RELIABILITY OF THE ESTIMATES

20.42 Estimates from the survey are subject to both sampling and non-sampling error.

20.43 Sampling error occurs because a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed. The most commonly used measure of the likely difference resulting from not including all dwellings in the survey is given by the standard error. Tables of standard errors of survey estimates are published each month in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). The standard errors in these tables are mathematically modelled after each sample redesign, using many different estimates from several months of survey responses. Standard errors for other estimates and other movements may be calculated by using the spreadsheet contained in Labour Force Survey Standard Errors, Data Cube (cat. no. 6298.0.55.001). Further information about sampling error is available in Chapter 17.

20.44 Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort is made to minimise reporting error by the careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient data processing procedures. Non-sampling error also arises because information cannot be obtained from all persons selected in the survey. The Labour Force Survey receives a high level of co-operation from individuals in selected dwellings, with response rates averaging 97%. Further information about non-sampling error is available in Chapter 17.


DATA COMPARABILITY OVER TIME

20.45 Frequency of collection, collection and sampling methods, concepts, data item definitions, classifications, and time series analysis techniques are all subject to change or development. Some survey features are reviewed regularly, while others are changed as the need arises. Despite the overriding need for long-term comparability, sound survey practice requires careful and continuing maintenance and development to maintain the integrity of the data and the efficiency of the collection.

20.46 While Labour Force Survey publications in various forms exist for a period of over 30 years and provide documentation of changes in survey practice over that time, individual historical publications are not necessarily the best source for extraction of comparable historical data series. Apart from the regular revision of seasonally adjusted and trend series, and the five yearly population benchmark revisions, from time to time other revisions are made to maintain comparability after changes to questions and definitions.

20.47 The primary sources for labour force series adjusted to the most current comparable basis are:

20.48 The major events and changes to the Labour Force Survey are outlined below.

    Nov 1960

    Quarterly survey commenced. State Capital Cities only, including people aged 14 and over, but excluding the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
    Sample of 1% of households Australia wide, with 1/8 rotation in private dwellings and 1/4 rotation in other dwellings.

    Nov 1963
    First release of State Capital City series, November 1960- November 1963 Employment and Unemployment, October 1963 (Ref. no. 6.4 - only available in hardcopy) issued February 1964.
    Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1961 Census of Population and Housing data. Labour force definitions based on the International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) 1954.

    Feb 1964
    Quarterly national survey commenced. Capital city series continued in absence of release of national series. Capital city estimates and population benchmarks based on 1961 Census data.

    Aug 1966
    Scope of survey population reduced to people aged 15 and over, due to changes in the school leaving age and to conform with definitions used in the 1966 Census. Indigenous population was included. Additional questions were introduced on steps taken to find a job.
    The grouping of hours worked changed to reflect recommendations from ICLS 1961. Occupation classified according to Classification and Classified List of Occupations (CCLO) 1966 Census edition. Industry classified according to Classification and Classified List of Industries (CCLI) 1966 Census edition and 1966 Group Employer Place of Work index.

    Aug 1967
    Additional questions introduced to better identify employees of incorporated enterprises (some of whom had previously been incorrectly classified as employers or self-employed).

    Feb 1969
    The Labour Force, Preliminary Estimates, August 1966 - February 1969, (Ref. no. 6.20 - only available in hardcopy). Later publications titled The Labour Force (Ref. no. 6.20 - only available in hardcopy) were released.

    May 1970
    First release of national seasonally adjusted series.

    Jul 1970
    Annual issue of The Labour Force, Historical Supplement 1964-1968 (Ref. no. 6.22) commenced, subsequent publications titled The Labour Force (Ref. no. 6.22 - only available in hardcopy).

    Aug 1971
    Classification of trainee teachers changed from 'employed' to 'not in the labour force', to conform with 1971 Census practice and international recommendations regarding activity principles. For the period August 1971 to August 1972, industry responses coded to both CCLI and ASIC, leading to full adoption of industry classified according to 1971 Census ASIC (August 1969 Preliminary edition) and 1971 Census Industry/Destination zone employer index from November 1972, and conversion of August 1966-May 1971 industry series to Australian Standard Industrial Classification (ASIC).

    Nov 1971
    Occupation classified according to CCLO 1971 edition, replacing CCLO 1966 version.

    Feb 1972
    Questions on country of birth and year of arrival in Australia added. February 1972 data published as supplementary survey results and then quarterly in The Labour Force (Ref. no. 6.20 - only available in hardcopy) from May 1972 onwards.

    May 1972
    Sample redesign based on 1971 Census, phased in from May 1972 to November 1972. Introduction of different sampling fractions across states and territories, with overall fraction reduced from 1% to 0.67%.

    Nov 1972
    First release of the preliminary labour force estimates in the quarterly publication, The Labour Force (Preliminary) (Ref. no. 6.32 - only available in hardcopy), was issued in May 1973.

    Nov 1973
    The seasonal adjustment of estimates for unemployed males, females and people by separate adjustment of unemployed series by sex (males, females) by age (15-19 years, 20 years and over) was undertaken. Previous, estimates were obtained by a (single) direct adjustment to the total estimate. Seasonally adjusted unemployment estimates February 1964 to August 1973 were revised. For final publication of the February 1964 to May 1966 seasonally adjusted series (using 1966 as the base year and excluding Indigenous population) see The Labour Force, 1977 (cat. no. 6204.0).

    Nov 1974
    First collection of Relationship in household data. Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Families (cat. no. 6224.0) first published as an irregular. See also Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6203.0) various issues were released between May 1977 and July 1980. The first release of preliminary unemployment estimates in the quarterly publication Unemployment, Preliminary Estimates (Ref. no. 6.31), was issued in December 1974. Relationship in household (i.e. families) estimates excluded persons and institutions. 'Family status' imputed for persons in private households where any member was out of scope, absent for six weeks or more at survey, or who were a visitor. Families estimates based on proxy (household head) weight.

    Feb 1975
    Estimates excluded Darwin (due to effects of cyclone Tracy). Respondents asked if they looked for work in the last four weeks (previously looked for work last week). Availability question added. Unemployment series and definition continued on old basis, with separate publication of new question results until February 1976. Unemployment definition and series based on new questions adopted from May 1976.

    May 1975
    Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1971 Census benchmarks. Revisions to August 1966 - November 1972 principal series, and from February 1973 onwards, full revision of all estimates and series (including annual seasonal factor re-analysis).

    May 1976
    Following February 1975 question changes, definition of unemployment revised to incorporate active job search in the last four weeks (previously in the last week), and availability to start work in the reference week (with separate provision for temporary illness and future starters). Series revised from February 1975.

    Aug 1977
    Catalogue numbers replaced reference numbers - cat. no. 6202.0 replaced Ref. no. 6.32 - only available in hardcopy) and cat. no. 6203.0 replaced Ref. no. 6.20 - only available in hardcopy).

    Nov 1977
    In preparation for the start of monthly surveys in February 1978 (with a new questionnaire, revised 1976 Census based sample and 1976 based population benchmarks), two surveys were conducted simultaneously in November 1977. Of these two surveys, one provided the published November 1977 results, based on the old questionnaire, the old 1971-based sample design (reduced to 0.5%), and the 1971-based population benchmarks. The other survey, based on the new questionnaire and the new, 1976-based sample, was used to prepare adjustment factors and revisions to historical estimates, so that comparable historical series could be published with the first release of February 1978 survey results. Occupation classified according to CCLO 1976 edition, replacing CCLO 1971 version. Industry classified according to the ASIC 1969 edition and Integrated Business Register employer index. Catalogue numbers replaced reference numbers - cat. no. 6201.0 replaced Ref. no. 6.35.

    Feb 1978
    Monthly national survey commenced. The Labour Force Survey adopted as the official national measure of unemployment. Interviews conducted over 2 one-week periods, previously 4 one-week periods. Estimates and benchmarks based on 1976 Census data, with series from August 1971 onwards revised to 1976-based benchmarks. Complex mix of reweighting unit record files, and/or key series adjustment: not all files, nor all series, were revised (see Labour Force Australia, Historical Summary 1966-1984 (cat. no. 6204.0) Appendix 1). With the full implementation of the 1976 Census based sample design, 1/8 monthly sample rotation was introduced for non-private dwellings: whole sample now subject to 1/8 rotation.
    New questionnaire introduced with substantial redesign of question wording, structure and sequence to improve data quality. Changes included separate questions on looking for full-time/looking for part-time job; active search more clearly identified, availability and future starters better identified. Some impact on employed, main impact on unemployed seeking part-time work. New definitions of employment and unemployment adopted. Definition of unemployed persons looking for first job was revised to "unemployed persons who had never worked full time for two weeks or more". Prior to November 1977 the definition was "unemployed persons who had never had a job". August 1966 to November 1977 series revised to comparable basis, as a result of new questionnaire introduction. Seasonally adjusted series continued on a quarterly basis, pending accumulation of sufficient results to permit adjustment of monthly series.

    Jul 1979
    Annual issue of Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Families (cat. no. 6224.0) commenced (July each year except 1981 (June), then June each year from 1986).

    Nov 1979
    Industry classified according to ASIC 1978 edition, replacing ASIC 1969 edition.

    Aug 1981
    Occupation classified according to CCLO November 1980 edition, replacing CCLO 1976 version.

    Nov 1981
    Minor rewording and re-ordering of categories of steps taken to look for work. No impact on data or definitions.

    Feb 1982
    Seasonally adjusted series introduced for monthly estimates series from February 1978 onwards. Annual seasonal factor re-analysis and series revision carried out at February each year from this survey.

    Oct 1982
    Full sample changed to sample redesign based on 1981 Census, including modifications to enable production of regional estimates within states, and estimates by State of usual residence. Additional questions to identify usual residence and family relationship, with marital status questions reworded and de facto relationships coded as married. Additional identification of persons usually working less than 35 hours per week. 1981 Australian Standard Geographic Classification (ASGC) based Labour Force Statistical Regions classification.

    Dec 1982
    Monthly publication Unemployment, Preliminary (cat. no. 6101.0) discontinued, final release issued in January 1983.

    Jul 1983
    Scope for 'Family status' (and hence families estimates) restricted to usual residents of private dwellings where all usual residents were within the survey scope and in on coverage at survey date. 'Family status' and families estimates thus exclude all persons in non-private dwellings, persons visiting private dwellings, or households where any member was out of scope or absent for six weeks or more at survey.

    Feb 1984
    Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1981 Census data. Estimates for the period October 1982 were revised to full state of usual residence basis on 1981 Census benchmarks. Estimates from February 1978 to September 1982 revised to 1981 benchmarks but remain on the previous state of enumeration/place of usual residence basis.

    Sept 1984
    Monthly publication of Relationship in household and Families estimates in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6203.0) commenced. Scope and estimation as for annual collection.

    Nov 1984
    Industry classified according to ASIC 1983 edition, replacing ASIC 1978 edition.

    Apr 1986
    Definition of employed persons altered, to include persons working 1 to 14 hours without pay in a family business or farm, in line with ILO definitions (ICLS 1982). Minor question wording and sequence changes in consequence. Significant break in series for employed, employed part-time, unemployed and related unemployment rates. Dependants definition, and the Family status item 'full-time student', includes full-time students aged 15-24 (previously aged 15-20). Weighting of families estimates changed, from proxy (household head) weight to harmonic mean of weights of all responding members of the family.

    Aug 1986
    Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) introduced for classification of occupation of persons, replacing CCLO 1981.

    Sept 1987 to Dec 1987
    Sample redesign based on the 1986 Census. New sample phased in. Overall sample fraction is 0.6%. A new 1986 ASGC based Labour Force Statistical Regions classification was used.

    Nov 1988
    Additional unemployment variable introduced: reason for ceasing last job (job losers/job leavers). No change in definition nor break in series.

    Feb 1989
    Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1986 Census data. All estimates for the period January 1984 onwards revised.

    Jun 1989
    'Family type' class 'Other families' split into 'One parent families' and 'Other families'.

    Nov 1989
    Optical Mark Recognition questionnaire design and data capture method introduced.

    Sep 1992 to Dec 1992
    Sample redesign based on the 1991 Census. New sample phased in. Overall fraction is 0.5%. The updated 1991 ASGC based Labour Force Statistical Regions classification.

    Feb 1993
    Introduction of seasonally adjusted and trend series for Employed persons by Industry of main job (at Industry Division level).

    Jul 1993
    Jervis Bay Territory excluded from the scope of the survey. Previously it was included in estimates for the Australian Capital Territory.

    Feb 1994
    Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1991 Census data. All estimates for the period January 1989 on revised. Status in employment class titles amended to reflect the International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) and International Conference of Status in Employment (ICSE) 93.

    Mar 1994
    'Relationship in household' and 'Family type' classifications aligned with ABS standards, resulting in some breaks in comparability with previous Family status and family type classifications.

    Aug 1994
    Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) introduced in place of ASIC 1983 edition. Revised historical estimates of employment published by ANZSIC group from August 1984 onwards.

    Aug 1995
    Seasonally adjusted and trend estimates of long-term unemployment published for the first time.

    Aug 1996 to Feb 1997
    Telephone interviewing implemented progressively. Initial impact on data dissipated by end of implementation period.

    Aug 1996
    Occupation coded using Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Second Edition replacing the first edition of ASCO.

    Sep 1997 to Apr 1998
    Sample redesign phased in based on the 1996 Census. Overall fraction is 0.5%. The new 1996 ASGC based Labour Force Statistical Regions classification.

    Feb 1999
    Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1996 Census data. All estimates for the period January 1995 onwards were revised.

    Feb 2000
    Computer assisted coding introduced for industry and occupation in place of manual coding and reference to the ABS Business Register. Derivation of status in employment changed to remove reference to the ABS Business Register for limited liability information. Breaks in series for Status in employment, Industry and Occupation series.

    Mar 2000 to Jul 2000
    One rotation group each month enumerated by new questionnaire for evaluation purposes. Data converted to existing definitions at estimation stage.

    Sep 2000
    NSW enumeration one week early to allow for Olympic Games.

    Apr 2001
    New questionnaire implemented. For information on the changes made to the questionnaire, see Information Paper: Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey, 2001 (cat. no. 6232.0). New or extended data on: job tenure; underemployment; hours worked; duration of unemployment; and marginal attachment to the labour force. Minor definitional changes to employment and unemployment relating to: short term absences; unavailability due to illness; and contributing family workers (ICLS 1982, ICSE-93, ICLS 1998). The core labour force series were revised back to April 1986 to account for these definitional changes.

    Aug 2001
    Enumeration one week later than usual to avoid overlap with Census.

    Nov 2002
    Sample redesign phased in from November 2002 to June 2003 based on the 2001 Census. Overall fraction is 0.45%. 2001 ASGC based Labour Force Statistical Regions classification introduced for the new design, replacing the 1996 ASGC based Labour Force Statistical Regions classification. Sample selection stage in less populated areas based on the ASGC Remoteness structure instead of population density. In hotels and motels, only those units occupied by usual residents enumerated. A sample frame for Indigenous communities was introduced as an aid to enumeration in the Labour Force Survey and household surveys generally. For more information on the sample redesign, see Information Paper: Labour Force Survey Sample Design, November 2002 (cat. no. 6269.0).

    Feb 2003
    Monthly publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6203.0) discontinued, final release issued in March 2003. Additional question on underemployed workers and their availability to work extra hours within four weeks of the survey date included. For more information on the changes to the questionnaire, see Information Paper: Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey, 2004 (cat. no. 6232.0).

    Apr 2003
    Monthly publication Labour Force, Australia, Preliminary (cat. no. 6202.0) renamed Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

    Oct 2003 to Aug 2004
    Computer assisted interviewing progressively implemented in place of pen and paper questionnaire.

    Dec 2003
    Concurrent monthly and quarterly analysis of seasonal adjustment factors introduced in place of annual forward factor analysis and revision. For more information on concurrent seasonal adjustment, see Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics, 2003 (cat. no. 6292.0).

    Feb 2004
    Estimates and population benchmarks based on 2001 Census data. All estimates for the period January 1999 to January 2004 revised. The definition of unemployed persons was changed to include 'future starters' (persons who had not actively looked for work because they were waiting to start a new job within four weeks from the end of the survey reference week, and could have started in the reference week if the job had been available then). These persons had previously been classified as not in the labour force. Historical series from April 2001 were revised to the new basis as part of the benchmark revision. Unit record data revised for the period September 1997 to March 2001, to account for the definitional changes introduced in April 2001. Industry and occupation series revised back to August 2000 to include 'not further defined' categories in cases where there is not enough detail provided to allow the ABS to code people to the lowest level of these classifications. (From the introduction of computer assisted coding in 2000 until November 2003, these responses were proportionally distributed to the most detailed level of the classification.) For more information on the changes introduced in February 2004, see Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics, 2003 (cat. no. 6292.0).

    May 2005
    Autocoding (AC) introduced for the coding of industry and occupation data. Industry and occupation codes are applied automatically by a computer matching the survey responses to an industry or occupation index. Where the AC system is unable to allocate a valid code to a record, the record is then passed on to the Computer Assisted Coding (CAC) system for coding. Comparisons of the estimates of employed persons at the industry Division and occupation Major Group level from each of the two methods showed that in a small number of cases there were statistically significant differences between the two methods. These differences were inconsistent across the months analysed, and were so small and variable, that application of adjustment factors is not warranted.

    Aug 2006
    Industry coded using both the new classification Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006 and the previous classification Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 1993. Occupation coded using both the new classification Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) and the previous classification Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Second Edition. Dual-coding continued until November 2008.

    Feb 2007
    First release of selected industry and occupation estimates on an ANZSIC 2006 and ANZSCO basis, from August 2006.

    May 2007
    Composite estimation introduced replacing the previous estimation method. Historical series from April 2001 to April 2007 were revised to the new basis as part of the implementation of composite estimation. Unit record data was also revised for this period. For more information on composite estimation, see Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics, 2007 (cat. no. 6292.0).

    Nov 2007
    Sample redesign phased in from November 2007 to June 2008 based on the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. Overall fraction is 0.32%. Sampling efficiencies related to the introduction of composite estimates enabled an 11% reduction in the sample with only minor reductions in data quality relative to the previous design. For more information on the sample redesign, see Information Paper: Labour Force Survey Sample Design, November 2007 (cat. no. 6269.0).

    Jul 2008
    The sample was reduced by 24% in July 2008 as one of a range of ABS savings initiatives for the 2008-09 financial year, with coverage representing approximately 0.24% of the population aged 15 years and over. For information about the sample reduction, refer to Information Paper: Labour Force Survey Sample Design, November 2007, Second edition (cat. no. 6269.0).

    Sep 2008
    Interviewing procedures changed to commence on a Sunday between the 5th and the 11th of the month, and the reference week changed to be the prior Sunday to Saturday – interviews previously commenced on the Monday between the 6th and 12th of each month (with exception at the end and beginning of each calendar year). The new procedures were introduced to increase the likelihood of contact with households, thereby increasing the efficiency and accuracy of the LFS estimates. An improved method for calculating families estimates was introduced. Detailed information on the improved method is provided in Information Paper: Improvements to Family Estimates from the Labour Force Survey (cat. no. 6224.0.55.002).

    Feb 2009
    The ANZSIC 2006 classification system replaced ANZSIC 1993 for industry employment estimates. The ANZSCO classification system replaces the classification, Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Second Edition for occupation employment estimates. The time series spreadsheets previously published in Labour Force, Australia, Spreadsheets (cat.no.6202.0.55.001) are now included in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). Estimates compiled using population benchmarks based on results from the 2006 Census, with data for the period June 2001 to January 2009 revised to reflect the latest population estimates. Regional estimates are classified to the Labour Force Statistical Regions based on the 2006 Australian Statistical Geography Standard. Previous estimates were based on the 2001 Australian Standard Geographical Classification.

    Apr 2009
    Gross flow estimates released from the labour force survey and included in data cube GM1 - Labour Force Statistics and Gross Changes (flows) by Sex, State and Age in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

    Sept 2009
    The July 2008 sample reduction was reinstated progressively from September to December 2009. Detailed information about the sample reinstatement is available in Information Paper Labour: Force Survey Sample Design, Nov 2007 (Third edition) (cat. no. 6269.0).

    Jul 2010
    Labour force estimates compiled using updated population benchmarks that incorporate revisions made to Net Overseas Migration estimates, with data for the period July 2006 to June 2010 revised to reflect the latest population estimates.

    Oct 2010
    The derivation of the net overseas migration component of LFS population benchmarks updated to use assumptions that take into account a range of available supplementary data sources and relevant information to forecast population changes in the short-term. These were previously based on the assumption that the previous year's net overseas migration (for the required quarter) movements were representative of the current year's movement.

    Feb 2012
    Revisions to employment by industry estimates for the period November 1984 to May 1994 were made to reflect improvements made to the concordance between the formerly used Australian Standard Industrial Classification (ASIC 1983) and the current Australian and New Zealand Industry Classification (ANZSIC 2006). Revisions were also made to the time series spreadsheets for the period April 1986 to August 1997 to incorporate more accurate estimates from the source data and improve coherence between labour force products. A break in series was also introduced for duration of unemployment estimates to separate the synthetic estimates produced for the period April 1986 to March 2001 from the estimates directly measured from April 2001 onwards.

    Nov 2012
    Labour Force estimates from July 2008 to October 2012 revised to align the labour Force population benchmarks with the latest available information on population growth.

    Dec 2012
    Online self-completion of the Labour Force Survey progressively introduced, with one rotation group initially being offered the option of self-completing the survey on-line in place of a face-to-face or telephone interview.

    May 2013
    Sample redesign phased in from May to August 2013 based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. For the key LFS estimates, the 2011 sample design generally maintains standard errors at levels targeted under the 2006 sample design. Generally the previous design achieved lower levels of sampling error than the sample was designed for, allowing for a reduction in the 2011 sample size to match the 2006 targets. For more information on the sample redesign, see Information Paper: Labour Force Survey Sample Design, May 2013.

FURTHER INFORMATION

20.49 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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