1136.0 - A Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/03/2009   
   Page tools: Print Print Page



Labour Market Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Telephone (02) 6252 7206


The Underemployed Workers Survey provides information about workers who are not fully employed, i.e. part-time workers who indicate that they would prefer to work more hours, and full-time workers who did not work full-time hours in the reference period for economic reasons. This group includes 'time-related underemployed' workers. Measures of underemployment supplement other measures of labour market slack, such as the number of unemployed persons and discouraged job seekers.

While estimates of underemployed workers are also available from the Labour Force Survey each quarter (February, May, August and November), this supplementary survey provides greater detail on the characteristics and the job search activities of this important segment of labour underutilisation. The data also provide important support to policy formulation, as well as for labour market forecasts, and are an important source for those concerned with employment policy initiatives, and benefit and support programs.


The scope of the LFS survey is restricted to persons aged 15 years and over, but excludes the following people:

  • members of the permanent Australian defence forces;
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the census and estimated populations;
  • overseas residents in Australia;
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants);
  • students at boarding schools and patients in hospitals;
  • residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, for people with disabilities); and
  • inmates of prisons.

Reference Period


Frequency of Collection


Method of collection

The Underemployed Workers Survey is conducted throughout Australia in September as a LFS supplementary survey. Information is collected from a responsible adult on behalf of household members. Trained interviewers conduct most interviews (70%) over the telephone, and the remainder are conducted face-to-face.


Release schedule

The results of supplementary surveys are released approximately six months after the survey reference period.


Underemployed Workers, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6265.0)

Other information

The concept of 'underemployment', and the ABS underemployment framework, are fully explained in Chapter 5 of Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (ABS cat. no. 6102.0.55.001).


The survey is conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excludes people living in very remote parts of Australia. Data are available for Australia, state and territory, and capital city/balance of state (excluding territories).

Data Service

Customised tables are available from the ABS upon request, as a charged service.



State or territory of usual residence
Area of usual residence

Region of usual residence
Marital status
Relationship in household

Country of birth
Year of arrival in Australia
Age group

Level of highest educational attainment

Historical Data

The Underemployed Workers Survey was conducted in May 1985, 1988 and 1991. In 1994 it became an annual survey, collected each September. Results of the 1996 and later surveys may be downloaded from the 'Past & Future Releases' tab of Underemployed Workers, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6265.0).