6250.0 - Characteristics of Recent Migrants, Australia, Nov 2013 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/06/2014   
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1 This publication contains results from the 2013 Characteristics of Recent Migrants Survey (CORMS), conducted throughout Australia in November 2013 as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS).

2 CORMS provides data about the labour force status and other characteristics of recent migrants and temporary residents (see the Glossary for more information about these terms). Along with general demographic and employment characteristics of recent migrants and temporary residents, information available from the survey includes the type of visa held by recent migrants and temporary residents on arrival in Australia, and language spoken. In November 2013, the survey also collected data about education and employment before and after arriving in Australia, any difficulties experienced finding work since migration and proficiency in English.

3 CORMS is expected to be collected every three years, with the next iteration planned for November 2016. The ABS has previously conducted a survey of recent migrants in 1984, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2007 and 2010. While the ABS seeks to maximise consistency and comparability over time by minimising changes to the survey, sound survey practice requires ongoing development to maintain the integrity of the data. There were a number of changes to the survey between 2004 and 2007. In 2004, migrants who had arrived in the previous 20 years were included in the survey. From 2007, only migrants who had arrived in the previous 10 years were included. There were also new and reworded questions in the 2007 survey, with only minor development occurring for the 2010 and 2013 surveys. The name of the survey changed in 2010, from 'Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Recent Migrants' to 'Characteristics of Recent Migrants'. The changes since the 2004 survey mean results from the surveys conducted in 2004 and earlier are not comparable with the 2007, 2010 and 2013 surveys. However, the 2007, 2010 and 2013 survey results are comparable. Further details about these differences are outlined below in the Data Comparability section.

Concepts, Sources and Methods

4 The conceptual framework used in Australia's LFS aligns closely with the standards and guidelines set out in Resolutions of the International Conference of Labour Statisticians. Descriptions of the underlying concepts and structure of Australia's labour force statistics, and the sources and methods used in compiling these estimates, are presented in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2013 (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001) which is available on the ABS website.

5 The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the LFS, which also apply to supplementary surveys. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics.



6 The scope of CORMS is restricted to people aged 15 years and over who were usual residents of private dwellings, excluding:

  • members of the permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the Census of Population and Housing and estimated resident populations
  • overseas residents in Australia and
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants).
7 In addition, this supplementary survey excluded people living in Indigenous communities in Australia and in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, boarding schools, hospitals, retirement homes, homes for people with disabilities, and prisons.


8 The estimates in this publication relate to people covered by the survey scope. In the LFS, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling and hence has only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.


9 Information was mainly collected through interviews conducted over a two-week period in November 2013. Interviews were conducted face-to-face or over the telephone, using computer assisted interviewing, while some respondents were able to provide certain information over the Internet via a self-completed form. In the selected dwellings, after the LFS had been fully completed for each person in scope, information was obtained from one responsible adult who was present on each visa application in the household. For example, consider a household with three usual residents where two were listed together on one visa application and the other person was listed on a separate visa application. In this case, two people in the household would have provided information, one for each visa application that they were covered by.

10 In December 2012, the ABS began a trial of online electronic data collection. In this trial, respondents in one rotation group (i.e. one-eighth of the LFS sample) were offered the option of self completing their LFS questionnaire over the Internet instead of via a face-to-face or telephone interview. In November 2013, when CORMS data were collected, of the seven rotation groups selected for CORMS, 100% of respondents in three rotation groups and 50% of respondents in the other four rotation groups were offered the option of self completing their LFS questionnaire over the Internet.

11 As supplementary surveys such as CORMS are restricted to seven-eighths of the LFS sample, the option of online self-completion of the LFS was offered to the equivalent of over two-thirds of the sample available for CORMS. Those households who completed the LFS online and contained usual residents who were a recent migrant or temporary resident had the rest of their information collected in a face-to-face or telephone interview. About 9% of the complete interviews obtained from recent migrants and temporary residents had taken up the option to do the LFS online. While those respondents who chose to complete the LFS online may have different characteristics to those who undertook the survey via face-to-face or telephone interview, the ABS has not detected any significant impacts on estimates due to the introduction of online collection. However, the ABS will continue to monitor any impacts through a measurement strategy and report these in the Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). For further information see the article Transition to Online Collection of the Labour Force Survey in the April, 2013 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

Sample Size

12 Approximately 94% of the selected households were fully responding to the CORMS survey. In relation to persons, 2,773 complete interviews were obtained from recent migrants and temporary residents.



13 Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each enumerated person. The weight is a value which indicates how many people in the population are represented by the sample person.

14 The first step in calculating weights for each unit is to assign an initial weight, which is the inverse of the probability of the unit being selected in the survey. For example, if the probability of a person being selected in the survey was 1 in 300, then the person would have an initial weight of 300 (that is, they represent 300 people).

Population Benchmarks

15 The initial weights are then calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population, referred to as benchmarks. The population included in the benchmarks is the survey scope. This calibration process ensures that the weighted data conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population described by the benchmarks rather than to the distribution within the sample itself. Calibration to population benchmarks helps to compensate for over or under-enumeration of particular categories of people which may occur due to either the random nature of sampling or non-response.

16 For this survey two sets of benchmarks were used, and were derived from the November 2013 LFS. The first set of benchmarks specified the population distribution in designated categories of state or territory of usual residence by area of usual residence by sex by age group. The second set was in designated categories of state or territory of usual residence by migrant status.

17 Generally, revisions are made to population benchmarks for the LFS following the final rebasing of population estimates to the latest five-yearly Census of Population and Housing, or when the need arises.

18 From February 2009, Labour Force Estimates have been compiled using population benchmarks based on the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. Revisions were applied to the population benchmarks in the July 2010, November 2012 and April 2013 issues to take into account the latest available population estimates. The revision presented in the April 2013 issue is reflected in the estimates presented in this publication.

19 Changes to the LFS population benchmarks impact primarily on the magnitude of the LFS estimates (i.e. employment and unemployment) that are directly related to the underlying size of the population. For more details on population benchmarks, see the Explanatory Notes in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) and for details about the revisions made, see the article in the November 2012 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). These revisions have not been applied to the results of previous Characteristics of Migrants Surveys.


20 Survey estimates of counts of people are obtained by summing the weights of people with the characteristics of interest.


21 All sample surveys are subject to error which can be broadly categorised as either sampling error or non-sampling error.

22 Sampling error is the difference between the published estimates, derived from a sample of people, and the value that would have been produced if all people in scope of the survey had been included. For more information, refer to the Technical Note.

23 Non-sampling error may occur in any collection, whether it is based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording answers by interviewers, and errors in coding and processing data. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error by careful design and testing of the questionnaire, training and supervision of interviewers, follow-up of respondents, and extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing.


24 Information recorded in this survey is essentially ‘as reported’ by respondents and hence may differ from that which might be obtained from other sources or via other methodologies.


Comparability of time series

25 Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants Surveys conducted up to and including November 1996 were restricted to migrants who arrived in Australia after 1970, were aged 18 years and over on arrival, and had obtained permanent Australian resident status. For November 1999, the survey was restricted to migrants who arrived in Australia after 1980, were aged 18 years and over on arrival, and had obtained permanent Australian resident status. For November 2004, the survey included migrants aged 15 years and over on arrival, who arrived in Australia after 1984 who had obtained permanent Australian resident status, as well as people who were temporary residents of Australia for 12 months or more. For November 2007, November 2010 and November 2013, the surveys have included migrants who arrived in Australia in the last 10 years (since 1997, 2000 and 2003 respectively), were aged 15 years and over on arrival, who had obtained permanent Australian resident status, as well as people who were temporary residents of Australia for 12 months or more. In 2007, people born in New Zealand, those holding New Zealand citizenship and those who held Australian citizenship before their arrival in Australia were excluded. In 2010 and 2013, people holding New Zealand citizenship and those who held Australian citizenship before their arrival in Australia were excluded, while other people born in New Zealand were included.

26 Socio-economic Indexes for Areas have been added to the November 2013 survey (for more information see the Classifications section below). Data items related to the nominated occupation for initial visa, nominated occupation for current visa, whether nominated occupation for current visa is same as occupation as at November 2013, main difficulty finding first job in Australia and main difficulty finding job held as at November 2013 were not collected in November 2013.

27 It is impracticable to obtain information relating to the labour force status of people before migration according to the strict definitions used in the monthly LFS. It is for this reason that 'Has had a job since arriving in Australia' and 'Has not had a job since arriving in Australia' are used to describe previous labour force status, while 'employed', 'unemployed' and 'not in the labour force' are used to describe labour force status as at November 2013.

Comparability with other ABS data

28 Since CORMS is conducted as a supplement to the LFS, data items collected in the LFS are also available in CORMS. However, there are some important differences between the two surveys. The CORMS sample is a subset of the LFS sample (refer to the Data Collection section above) and had a response rate of 94% compared with a response rate of 95% for the LFS. Also, the scope of CORMS differs to the scope of the LFS (refer to the Scope and Coverage section above). Due to these differences between the samples, CORMS data are weighted as a separate process to the weighting of LFS data. Differences may therefore be found in the estimates for those data items collected in the LFS and published as part of CORMS when compared with the same data items published in the November, 2013 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

29 Additionally, estimates from CORMS may differ from the estimates for the same or similar data items produced from other ABS collections for several reasons. For example, all sample surveys are subject to different sampling errors so users should take account of the relative standard errors (RSEs) on estimates where comparisons are made. Differences may also exist in scope and/or coverage, reference periods reflecting seasonal variations, non-seasonal events that may have impacted on one period but not another, or because of underlying trends in the phenomena being measured.

30 Estimates from CORMS will differ from estimates from the Australian Census and Migrants Integrated Dataset (ACMID), 2011, which was released in February 2014. The ACMID, 2011 relates to people who responded to the 9 August 2011 Census of Population and Housing and had a permanent visa record on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's (DIBP) Settlement Data Base (SDB) with a date of arrival between 1 January 2000 and 9 August 2011. ACMID estimates were a result of integrating the data from these two data sources and calibrating the linked records to known population totals from the SDB.

Comparability with non-ABS sources

31 The DIBP is the main holder of stocks and flow data on migrants by visa (e.g. Migration Program). Due to differences in collection objectives and definitions, data from CORMS are not comparable with DIBP data. For more information on the Migration Program and DIBP statistics, refer to the DIBP website.


Country of birth

32 Country of birth data are classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), Second Edition (cat. no. 1269.0).


33 Industry data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (Revision 2.0) (cat. no. 1292.0).


34 Occupation data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classifications of Occupations (ANZSCO), First Edition, Revision 1 (cat. no. 1220.0).


35 Education data are classified according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0). The ASCED is a national standard classification which can be applied to all sectors of the Australian education system including schools, vocational education and training, and higher education. The ASCED comprises two classifications: Level of Education and Field of Education.

36 Level of Education is defined as a function of the quality and quantity of learning involved in an educational activity. There are nine broad levels, 15 narrow levels and 64 detailed levels. For definitions of these levels, see the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

37 Field of Education is defined as the subject matter of an educational activity. Fields of education are related to each other through the similarity of subject matter, through the broad purpose for which the education is undertaken, and through the theoretical content which underpins the subject matter. There are 12 broad fields, 71 narrow fields and 356 detailed fields. For definitions of these fields, see the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

Socio-economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)

38 SEIFA is a suite of four summary measures that have been created from 2011 Census information. Each index summarises a different aspect of the socio-economic conditions of people living in an area. The indexes provide more general measures of socio-economic status than is given by measures such as income or unemployment alone.

39 Each index ranks geographic areas across Australia in terms of their relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage. The four indexes each summarise a slightly different aspect of the socio-economic conditions in an area. It is important to note that the indexes are assigned to areas and not to individuals. They indicate the collective socio-economic characteristics of the people living in an area. The respondents in CORMS have been assigned the 2011 Census SEIFA for the area in which they live. Consequently, they may not necessarily have the same personal characteristics that describes the socio-economic status of their geographic area as a whole.

40 The indexes and supporting material are found in the publication Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, 2011 (cat. no. 2033.0.55.001).


41 A Summary of Findings is available from the Summary tab. Unless otherwise specified, differences between data items highlighted in the Summary of Findings are statistically significant. See the Technical Note for further details.

42 A Data Cube (spreadsheet) containing all tables produced for this publication is available from the Downloads tab. The Data Cube presents tables of estimates and proportions, and their corresponding RSEs. As estimates have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.

43 For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the data, the survey microdata will be available through the online TableBuilder product. TableBuilder is a tool for creating tables and graphs and is expected to be released around October 2014. For further details refer to the Microdata Entry Page.

44 Special tabulations are available on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tabulations can be produced from the survey incorporating data items, populations and geographic areas selected to meet individual requirements. These can be provided in printed or electronic form. All enquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or email client.services@abs.gov.au.


45 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


46 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again in 2016.


47 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily upcoming release advise on the website that details products to be released in the week ahead. The web page Topics @ a Glance - Migrant and Ethnicity also contains a range of information and useful references relating to migrant and ethnicity statistics.