6102.0.55.001 - Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2006  
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Contents >> Methods >> Household Collections >> Chapter 20. Labour Force Survey

Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods was originally released in 2001 in both electronic and paper versions (cat. no. 6102.0). The paper publication will not be rereleased. However, the web version (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001) is being updated on an ongoing basis. This chapter was updated on 8 February, 2006.


20.1 The ABS has conducted the Labour Force Survey since 1960. The survey was quarterly before February 1978, and has been monthly since then. The content of the survey has remained broadly the same since its introduction, but is regularly 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 (LFS) is to provide timely information on the labour market activity of the usually resident civilian population of Australia aged 15 and over. The statistics of most interest each month are the estimates of the number of employed and unemployed people, the unemployment rate and the labour force participation rate. The rate of change in the number of people employed is a key indicator of the pace of economic growth. The unemployment rate (the percentage of the labour force that is unemployed) is the main measure of unutilised labour, and the participation rate (the percentage of the population in the labour force) reflects changes in total labour availability.


20.3 Data are compiled according to concepts and definitions outlined in Chapters 2-7. Estimates are published monthly, initially in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) and associated spreadsheets. Further results are published a week later in the more detailed 6291.0.55.001 set of spreadsheets and datacubes. More detailed estimates are available on request. In addition, Labour Force Survey data are included in the quarterly publication Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0).

20.4 The survey output includes:

Socio-demographic informationSex, age, Indigenous status, marital status, relationship in household, family, 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 forceLabour force status, unemployment rate, participation rate and gross changes (flows) in labour force status.
Persons employedStatus 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, whether expects to be with current employer in 12 months, underemployment*, preference for working more hours, reason for working less than 35 hours in the reference week, and occupation and industry in main job*.
Persons unemployedWhether looking for full-time or part-time work, reason for ceasing last job, industry and occupation of last job*, duration of unemployment, active steps taken to find work, and whether looking for first job.
Persons not in the labour forceWhether looking for work (actively, not actively), permanently unable to work, in institutions.

* These data are collected in the months February, May, August and November only.

20.5 Seasonally adjusted and trend (i.e. smoothed seasonally adjusted) data are available for selected series (labour force status, industry of employment, and long term unemployed). See Chapter 17 (paragraphs 17.78-17.89) for further explanation of these terms.


20.6 The Labour Force Survey includes all usual residents of Australia (Footnote 1) aged 15 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
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia.

20.7 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).


20.8 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 Monday between the 6th and the 12th of each month. Most information obtained relates to the week before the interview (i.e. 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).

20.9 Prior to August 1996, all interviews were conducted by face to face interview at selected dwellings. Over the period August 1996 to February 1997, the ABS introduced telephone interviewing. The first interview is conducted in person (face to face). 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.

20.10 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.

20.11 Other collection methods are used in special circumstances. A self-enumeration form may be used where it is not possible for an 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 for Indigenous people living in sparsely settled and Indigenous strata when interviewers encounter significant cultural and language difficulties, or when other operational difficulties occur such as the availability of suitably trained and skilled interviewers.

20.12 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 96%.


20.13 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. After each Population Census the sample is redesigned and the sampling fractions reset.


20.14 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. Its design also yields estimates for a number of broad regions within states.

20.15 From February 1964 until 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/territory. The sampling fractions for the Labour Force Survey set at each post-Census redesign are shown in Table 20.1 below. Additional information about the method and timing of the introduction of each sample redesign is provided in paragraphs 20.21 and 20.22, below.


New South

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
1 in 321
1 in 270
1 in 239
1 in 149
1 in 165
1 in 90
1 in 98
1 in 86

20.16 Following the full implementation of the 2001 sample redesign (June 2003), the sampling fractions yielded a sample size of approximately 28,600 private dwellings and 1,900 non-private dwellings. This resulted in approximately 60,000 people responding to the survey, covering about 1 in 224 (0.45%) of the population aged 15 years and over. For further information, refer to Information Paper: Labour Force Survey Sample Design, November 2002 (cat. no. 6269.0).


20.17 Control of provider load is a concern in all frequently repeated surveys. 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. This results in a seven-eighths common dwelling sample between consecutive surveys, which guarantees a high month-to-month correlation between estimates and contributes to the accuracy of month-to-month estimates of movement. Sample rotation also provides the opportunity to ensure that the Labour Force Survey sample reflects changes over time in the dwelling population (such as construction of new dwellings).


20.18 A completely new (and independent) Labour Force Survey sample is selected every five years to coincide with the reselection of the Household Survey Master Sample after each Census of Population and Housing.


20.19 Post-stratification estimation uses independent population benchmarks at the post-stratum cell level (see Chapter 18, paragraphs 18.44 and 18.45, for more information on population benchmarks). Adjustments are also made to account for people enumerated outside of their state or territory of usual residence.

20.20 Prior to February 2004 the only population benchmarks were:
  • state/territory of usual residence, by
  • part of state of usual residence (capital city, rest of state), by
  • age (ages 15-24 as single years, five-year age groups to age 69, one group for age 70 and over), by
  • sex.

20.21 From February 2004 an additional set of benchmarks is used in estimation. The additional set comprises the number of people in each LFS region of usual residence (there are currently 77 LFS regions across Australia), by sex.

20.22 The use of regional benchmarks improves the quality of estimates for LFS regions, with negligible impact on estimates at national, state and territory levels. Estimates for LFS regions (available each month in electronic products) have been revised back to January 1999, to include regional benchmarks. For more information on LFS regions see the article LFS regions, published in the July 2004 issue of Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0).

20.23 The population benchmarks are revised every five years following the Census of Population and Housing. From February 2004, LFS estimates are compiled using revised population benchmarks based on results from the 2001 Census. LFS estimates for the period January 1999 to January 2004 were also revised, based on the updated population benchmarks.


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

Seasonal adjustment

20.25 Selected 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 on request. 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.

20.26 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 picked up 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 less 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

20.27 Trend estimates are available for selected 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).


20.28 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.

20.29 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. Overall, those who can be matched (in the private dwelling sample) 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.

20.30 Gross flow estimates relate only to those people in private dwellings for whom information was obtained in successive surveys. 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.

20.31 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 datacube that can be accessed via the ABS web site (see GM1 - Labour Force Statistics and Gross Changes (flows) by Sex, State and Age (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001)).

20.32 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 rather than to cancel out. The estimates are also subject to sampling variability. For these reasons the estimates of flows should be used with caution.


20.33 Estimates from the survey are subject to both sampling and non-sampling error. The most commonly used measure of sampling error is the standard error. Tables of standard errors of survey estimates are published in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). The standard errors in these tables are based on models, which allow the estimation of standard errors without requiring access to individual records. The standard error models used for the LFS are outlined in the paper Labour Force Survey Standard Errors, 2005 (cat. no. 6298.0). The associated spreadsheet: Labour Force Survey Standard Errors, Spreadsheets (cat. no. 6298.0.55.001) has been developed for use in estimating estimates from the LFS. Further information about sampling and non-sampling error is available in Chapter 17, paragraphs 17.90-17.105.


20.34 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.

20.35 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 of original, seasonally adjusted and trend series, from time to time other revisions are made to maintain comparability after changes to questions and definitions.

20.36 The primary sources for labour force series adjusted to the most current comparable basis are:
  • AusStats, the ABS' web-based information service (AusStats provides the ABS' full product range on-line);
  • Labour Force Australia, Historical Summary 1966-1984 (cat. no. 6204.0) (for quarterly series from August 1966 to November 1977);
  • The Labour Force 1964 to 1968 Historical Supplement (Reference no. 6.22) (February 1964 to May 1966 data, original); and
  • The Labour Force 1977 (cat. no. 6204.0) for the last release of seasonally adjusted series for February 1964 to May 1966.

20.37 Table 20.2 shows the major events and changes to the survey over its history.



Nov 1960Quarterly 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 1963First release of state capital city series, November 1960-November 1963 Employment and Unemployment, October 1963 (Ref. no. 6.4) issued February 1964.
Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1961 Census data.
Labour force definitions based on ICLS 1954.

Feb 1964Quarterly 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 1966Scope 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 Population Census.
Indigenous population included: see February 1969 revision.
Additional questions 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 1967Additional questions introduced to better identify employees of incorporated enterprises (some of whom had previously been incorrectly classified as employers or self-employed).

Feb 1969 First release of national series in the quarterly publication The Labour Force, Preliminary Estimates, August 1966-February 1969 (Ref. no. 6.20). Subsequent publications titled The Labour Force (Ref. no. 6.20).
Estimates and population benchmarks from February 1964 based on 1966 Census data, state of enumeration/place of usual residence basis from February 64 onwards, including Indigenous population from August 1966 onwards.

May 1970First release of national seasonally adjusted series.

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

Aug 1971Classification 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 ASIC.

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

Feb 1972Questions 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) from May 1972 onwards.

May 1972Sample redesign based on 1971 Population 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 1972First release of preliminary labour force estimates in the quarterly publication The Labour Force (Preliminary) (Ref. no. 6.32), issued in May 1973.
See August 1971 note re industry coding.

Nov 1973Seasonal 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). Previously, estimates were obtained by a (single) direct adjustment to the total estimate.
Seasonally adjusted unemployment estimates February 1964-August 1973 revised. For final publication of February 1964-May 1966 seasonally adjusted series (1966-based, excluding Indigenous population) see The Labour Force, 1977 (cat. no. 6204.0).

Nov 1974First 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 e.g. May 1977, July 1980.
First release of preliminary unemployment estimates in the quarterly publication Unemployment, Preliminary Estimates (Ref. no. 6.31), issued in December 1974.
Relationship in household (and hence families) estimates excluded persons in 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 1975Estimates 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 1975Estimates 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 1976Following February 1975 question changes, definition of unemployment revised to incorporate active job search, and availability to start work in the reference week (with separate provision for temporary illness and future starters). Series revised from February 1975.

Aug 1977Catalogue numbers replaced reference numbers - cat. no. 6202.0 replaced Ref. no. 6.32 and cat. no. 6203.0 replaced Ref. no. 6.20.

Nov 1977In 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 ASIC 1969 edition and Integrated Business Register employer index.
Catalogue numbers replaced reference numbers - cat. no. 6201.0 replaced Ref. no. 6.35.

Feb 1978Monthly 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, with substantial redesign of question wording, structure and sequence to improve data quality collected on 0.5% sample, new design. 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-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 1979Annual 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 1979Industry classified according to ASIC 1978 edition, replacing ASIC 1969 edition.

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

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

Feb 1982Seasonally 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 1982Full sample flipped-over to sample redesign based on 1981 Population 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 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 1983Scope 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 1984Estimates and population benchmarks based on 1981 Census data. Estimates for the period October 1982 on revised to full state of usual residence basis on 1981 Census benchmarks. Estimates from February 1978 to September 1982 revised to 1981-based benchmarks but remain on the previous state of enumeration/place of usual residence basis.

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

Apr 1986Definition 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 1986Australian 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 Population Census. New sample phased in. Overall sample fraction 0.6%.
1986 ASGC based Labour Force Statistical Regions classification.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apr 2001New 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, but the changes were not made at the unit record level at this time.

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

Nov 2002 to Jun 2003Sample redesign phased in based on the 2001 Population Census. Overall fraction 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 LFS 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 2003Monthly 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 2003Monthly publication Labour Force, Australia, Preliminary (cat. no. 6202.0) renamed Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). Quarterly publication Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0) commenced.
Oct 2003 to Aug 2004Computer assisted interviewing progressively implemented in place of pen-and paper questionnaire.

Dec 2003Concurrent 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 2004Estimates 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 2005Autocoding (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.


20.38 For further details contact the Labour Market Statistics Section, on Canberra (02) 6252 7206.


1. From July 1993, Jervis Bay Territory has been excluded from the scope of the Labour Force Survey.< back

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