6102.0.55.001 - Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, Jun 2005  
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Contents >> Methods >> Household Surveys >> Chapter 20. Labour Force Supplementary Surveys >> 20.10. Persons Not In the Labour Force


20.10.1 The Persons Not in the Labour Force (PNILF) survey was first conducted in May 1975 and then in May 1977. The survey has been conducted annually since 1988. The survey collects information about persons who are neither employed nor unemployed. Data from this survey are used to measure potential labour not reflected in employment and unemployment statistics, and in particular to measure the number and characteristics of discouraged job seekers and others marginally attached to the labour force. The policy context for the data includes labour market programs for the jobless, income support programs, retirement policies, and child care policies.

20.10.2 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.


20.10.3 Data from the survey are published in Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6220.0). More detailed estimates are available on request.

20.10.4 Data from the survey relate to persons aged 15-69. The main populations of interest are persons not in the labour force, persons marginally attached to the labour force, and discouraged job seekers. Estimates are produced on an original basis only (i.e. not seasonally adjusted) and include:

Socio-demographic informationSex, age, marital status, household/family relationship, State or Territory of usual residence, birthplace, year of arrival in Australia, number of children and age of youngest child.
Persons not in the labour forceWhether want to work and type of work preferred; whether looked for work in last 12 months; main activity when not in the labour force; for persons who have previously had a job, time since last job, and reason for ceasing; for persons who have held a job in the last 20 years, details of the job including occupation, status in employment, and full-time or part-time status; intention to enter the labour force; and main source of income.
Persons marginally attached to the labour forceDetails of whether actively looking for work and whether available for work; for persons not actively looking for work, all and main reason(s) not actively looking for work; for persons not available to start work within four weeks, main reason not available; and for persons not actively looking for work or available to start work within four weeks for childcare reasons, age of youngest child and number of children.

20.10.5 Data collected in the survey are compiled according to concepts and definitions outlined in Chapter 4 (employment characteristics), Chapter 7 (persons not in the labour force) and Chapter 15 (socio-demographic information).


20.10.6 The scope of this survey is restricted to persons aged 15-69 years. The standard scope restrictions for supplementary surveys outlined in the overview part of Chapter 20 also apply to this survey.


20.10.7 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 has been conducted there have been 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 change in scope is considered to have been small. Changes affecting the Labour Force Survey may also affect this survey. Such changes are outlined in Chapter 19 and are not repeated here.

1975Initial survey conducted (November) - preliminary data published in Persons Not In the Labour Force, Preliminary (Ref. no. 6.54) and final data in Persons Not In the Labour Force (Ref. no. 6.59).
Survey scope - persons aged 15 to 64.
1977Survey conducted (May).
Catalogue numbers replaced reference numbers - Cat. no. 6219.0 (preliminary data) and Cat. no. 6220.0 (final data).
1979Biannual collection commenced (March and September), some definitional changes.
1980Change to definition of persons wanting a job - broadened to include persons available to start work within 4 weeks from the end of the reference week but not actively looking for work.
Preliminary publication discontinued.
1983Concept of marginal attachment to the labour force introduced.
Improvements made to measure of discouraged job seekers.
Survey scope changed - persons aged 15 and over.
1988Survey scope changed - persons aged 15 to 69.
1989 Annual collection commenced (September).
1994Standard Data Service replaced publication format (Cat. no. changed to 6220.0.40.001).
Sample reduced to seven-eighths of Labour Force Survey sample.
Publication format replaced Standard Data Service (Cat. no. changed to 6220.0).
1997Persons living in remote and sparsely settled parts of Australia excluded from scope of survey.


20.10.8 For further details contact the Assistant Director, Monthly and Multi-purpose Population Surveys Section, on (02) 6252 6660.

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