6262.0 - Information Paper: Regional Labour Force Statistics, 2014  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/12/2013   
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The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) introduced a new geographical classification, the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), on 1 July 2011 prior to conducting the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. The new geography standard has been designed to provide users with statistical regions that are more stable over time, consistent in size, more detailed, better representative of underlying settlement patterns and socio-economic relationships, and encompassed in a single framework. In addition, the ASGS is adaptable because, as population regions grow, consistency can be maintained with previous regions (i.e. a growing region may be split in two).

In the Labour Force Survey (LFS) geography is used to define areas from which households are selected and to disseminate regional statistics. The ABS redesigns Labour Force regions after each Census and, following the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, introduced the new geographic standard, the ASGS into the sample design. From 20 February 2014 the ABS will release Labour Force regional statistics using the new geographical classification. This paper describes the introduction of the new geographical standard and should be read by all people who use regional estimates from the LFS.


The 2011 LFS sample design introduced the ASGS, which replaces the previously used Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC). The ASGS was introduced into the LFS sample design from May 2013 to August 2013. Mesh block boundaries from the ASGS were used to create the sampling areas from which groups of dwellings are selected in the LFS. The mesh blocks replaced Census Collection Districts used under the previous standard. The mesh block boundaries are a disaggregation of Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4)s.

SA4s will be used for the dissemination of regional estimates, replacing Labour Force Regions. The dissemination of Labour Force estimates on an ASGS basis has been designed to coincide with the publication of LFS estimates rebenchmarked back to July 1991 to align with the 2011 Census based Estimated Resident Population. The rebenchmarked estimates will initially be published with the January 2014 Labour Force estimates released on 13 February 2014 in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). The regional estimates will be subsequently released on 20 February 2014 in the monthly release of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001), and on 20 March 2014 in the quarterly release of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003).
For more information on rebenchmarking, see the 'Rebenchmarking of Labour Force Series' article in Labour Force, Australia, November 2012 (cat. no. 6202.0).

By itself the introduction of the ASGS would not result in revisions to the level of national and state / territory level Labour Force estimates. However, the national and state / territory level estimates will be revised back to July 1991 due to the rebenchmarking to align with the 2011 Census based Estimated Resident Population.

Despite the LFS sample being selected entirely from an ASGS-based design since August 2013, the ABS will continue to release estimates on an ASGC basis until the December 2013 issue. From the January 2014 issue, estimates will no longer be released or available according to the previous standard, ASGC.

Under the ASGS, there will be 87 SA4s utilised to publish Labour Force estimates. With the previous standard, ASGC, Labour Force estimates were published for 69 Labour Force Regions. To assist clients in understanding the implications of the ASGS being introduced, the following are available:

SA4s have been designed under the ASGS for the output of Labour Force estimates. SA4s are built from whole SA3s and are designed to reflect labour markets in each State and Territory within the population limits imposed by the size of the Labour Force Survey sample. For more details see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.001).

The ASGS also introduces Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSA)s which are geographical areas designed to represent the functional extent of each of the eight state and territory capital cities. They replace Capital City Statistical Divisions. More information about the GCCSAs, including maps of the differences in area between the GCCSAs and the Capital City Statistical Divisions, can be found in the Greater Capital City Statistical Area - Fact Sheet available on the ABS Geography portal: https://www.abs.gov.au/geography.

Labour Force estimates will be published using ASGS regions from the January 2014 issue onwards and will be backcast to October 1998. Estimates have been backcast by determining from which SA4 each survey respondent would have been sampled, had the ASGS been the geographical standard used for past LFS sample designs. Backcasting Labour Force estimates by SA4s enables a consistent time series of regional estimates to be published. However, because previous Labour Force Survey samples were designed using the ASGC rather than the ASGS, the creation of a consistent regional times series has had a slight impact on the quality of historical Labour Force estimates. Analysis determined that there was a small increase, on average, for estimated relative standard errors for both employment and unemployment estimates at the national level. The estimated relative standard errors on Labour Force estimates based on the 2011 sample design (estimates from the August 2013 issue onwards) are not affected by the backcasting and remain unchanged from those discussed in Information Paper: Labour Force Survey Sample Design, May 2013 (cat. no. 6269.0).


The purpose of the monthly 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 each month are the national and state and territory 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 economic growth. The unemployment rate (the percentage of persons in the labour force who are unemployed) is a key measure of unutilised labour, and the participation rate (the percentage of the population in the labour force) reflects changes in total labour availability.

The LFS is designed to provide accurate national, state and territory estimates. However, estimates for a number of regions within states can be produced from the LFS at a lower level of statistical quality. From 20 February 2014, a range of Labour Force estimates will be available by sub-state regions including GCCSAs and SA4s.

As with state and national estimates, regional Labour Force estimates are subject to sampling error. Compared with estimates at the state and territory level, estimates for regions are based on smaller samples and are subject to higher relative standard errors.

Standard errors for Labour Force estimates for each SA4 will be available in Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001) on 20 February 2014 one week after the release of the main LFS estimates in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) on 13 February 2014. Additional estimates of standard error for regions will be calculable using the spreadsheet published in Labour Force Survey Standard Errors, Data Cube (cat. no. 6298.0.55.001) when it is updated in 2014.

Since February 2004, regional Labour Force estimates have been produced using regional benchmarks to improve their quality. Despite this, care should be taken with the interpretation of regional estimates. The ABS recommends that:
  • LFS regional estimates be used with caution due to the high degree of variability, particularly for the regions with smaller populations.
  • Users calculate regional estimates as annual averages.


Under the ASGS, the Northern Territory contains two areas at the GCCSA level. They are equivalent to the two Northern Territory SA4s: Darwin and Northern Territory - Outback. Under the ASGC, there was only one Labour Force Region in the Northern Territory. The LFS has insufficient sample in the Northern Territory for benchmarking to occur at the GCCSA level. Consequently, Labour Force estimates at the GCCSA level will not be produced or published for the Northern Territory. However, regional estimates will be produced and published for all state and territory ASGS SA4s from October 1998 onwards.


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070, email client.services@abs.gov.au or Labour Force on Canberra (02) 6252 6525, email labourforce@abs.gov.au.