6310.0 - Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, Australia, Aug 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/03/2004   
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1 The statistics in this publication were compiled from data collected in the Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership Survey conducted throughout Australia in August 2003 as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). Respondents to the LFS who fell within the scope of the supplementary survey were asked further questions.

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

3 From April 2001 the LFS has been conducted using a redesigned questionnaire containing additional questions and some minor definitional changes. These changes also affect the supplementary surveys. For further details, see Information Paper: Implementing the Redesigned Labour Force Survey Questionnaire (cat. no. 6295.0) and Information Paper: Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey (cat. no. 6232.0).


4 The conceptual framework used in Australia's Labour Force Survey 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 (cat. no. 6102.0) which is also available on the ABS web site (About Statistics - Statistical Concepts and Classifications).


5 The scope of the LFS was restricted to persons aged 15 years and over and excluded the following persons:

  • members of the permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from census and estimated populations
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants).

6 Students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, homes for persons with handicaps), and inmates of prisons are excluded from all supplementary surveys.

7 This supplementary survey was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded approximately 120,000 persons living in very remote parts of Australia who would otherwise have been within the scope of the survey. The exclusion of these persons will have only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except the Northern Territory where such persons account for over 20% of the population.

8 In addition to those already excluded from the LFS, employees who worked solely for payment in kind in their main job are excluded from this survey.


9 The estimates in this publication relate to persons covered by the survey in August 2003. 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.


10 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:

  • Sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For further information on sampling error, refer to the Technical Note.
  • Non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents and interviewers and errors made in coding and processing data. These inaccuracies may occur in any enumeration, whether it be a full count or a sample. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers and efficient processing procedures.


11 The estimates are based on information collected in the survey month and, due to seasonal factors, may not be representative of other months of the year.


12 Occupation data are classified according to ASCO - Australian Standard Classification of Occupations, Second Edition (cat. no. 1220.0).

13 Industry data are classified according to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 1993 (cat. no. 1292.0).

14 Country of birth data are classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 1998 (cat. no. 1269.0).


15 In August 2003, weekly earnings could not be determined for a number of persons. This group includes persons refusing to answer questions about their weekly earnings and persons working in their own limited liability company who did not draw a wage or salary.

16 Care should be taken when using estimates of mean or median weekly earnings. Employees whose weekly earnings could not be determined are excluded from estimates of mean or median weekly earnings. Where these employees have demographic and employment characteristics which differ on average from the rest of the employee population, it is likely that the exclusion of these persons has resulted in a slight downward bias in mean weekly estimates.


17 Revisions are made to population benchmarks for the LFS after each five-yearly Census of Population and Housing. The last such revision was made in February 1999 to take account of the results of the 1996 Census of Population and Housing. Estimates from supplementary surveys conducted from and including February 1999 are therefore based on these revised population benchmarks.

18 Supplementary surveys are not always conducted on the full LFS sample. Since August 1994 the sample for supplementary surveys has been restricted to no more than seven-eighths of the LFS sample. As a result of the reduction in sample size, standard errors for this survey differ from those applicable to previous surveys.

19 In August 1990, persons aged 70 years and over were excluded from this survey, restricting the age of respondents to 15-69 years. The scope of surveys since 1991 and surveys run prior to August 1990, included persons aged 70 and over.

20 Care should be taken when comparing movements in mean weekly earnings and employment benefits estimates that include the July 1991 and August 1997 surveys. The usual period between surveys is 12 months; however, in 1991 the elapsed time was 11 months (August 1990 to July 1991), and in 1992 it was 13 months (July 1991 to August 1992). In 1997, the elapsed time was 2 years (August 1995 to August 1997).

21 A change was made in 2002 in the method used to determine whether an employee works full-time or part-time in their main job. Prior to 2002, 'full-time or part-time employees in main job' was derived from a self-perception question in which all employees were asked 'Is your job full-time or part-time?'. Following the redesign in 2001 of the LFS questionnaire, actual hours worked in main job in the reference week is now collected. From August 2002, data on hours worked in main job are used to derive full-time or part-time status of employees in main job.

22 This approach is consistent with the method used in the LFS to derive full-time or part-time status in all jobs. For further details see Glossary entries 'Full-time employees in main job' and 'Full-time workers'.


23 Due to differences in the scope and sample size of this supplementary survey and that of the LFS, the estimation procedure may lead to some small variations between labour force estimates from this survey and those from the LFS.


24 Caution should be exercised when comparing estimates of mean weekly earnings in this publication with estimates of average weekly earnings included in the quarterly publication Average Weekly Earnings, Australia (cat. no. 6302.0), which are compiled from a survey of employers. There are important differences in the scope and methodology of the two surveys.

25 The quarterly Survey of Average Weekly Earnings excludes employees in the industries of Agriculture, forestry and fishing (ANZSIC Division A) and Private households employing staff (ANZSIC Subdivision 97), both of which are included in this household survey. The quarterly Survey of Average Weekly Earnings collects information from employers who complete a mailed questionnaire with details of their employees' total gross earnings and the total number of employees. For this household survey, respondents are either interviewed personally, or another adult member of their household responds on their behalf.

26 The methodology used in this household survey may result in non-sampling error not evident in surveys of employers (and vice versa). This may account for some of the differences between the results of the two surveys.


27 Similar surveys have been conducted annually since August 1975, except 1991 when the survey was conducted in July, and in 1996 when the survey was not conducted.

28 Prior to 1998, this publication was titled Weekly Earnings of Employees (Distribution), Australia (cat. no. 6310.0). The change in title reflects the inclusion of employment benefits and trade union membership data previously released in other publications.


29 Results of previous surveys on employment benefits have been published in:

  • Employment Benefits, Australia, August 1983 to August 1992 (cat. no. 6334.0)
  • Employment Benefits, Australia, August 1994 (cat. no. 6334.0.40.001)
  • Weekly Earnings of Employees (Distribution), Australia, August 1995 (cat. no. 6310.0.40.001)
  • Weekly Earnings of Employees (Distribution), Australia, August 1997 (cat. no. 6310.0)


30 Information on trade union membership was first collected in 1976, then biennially in its current format, from 1986 to 1992. From this time it was conducted annually (with limited data available every second year). Results of previous surveys were published in:
  • Labour Force, Australia, December 1994, December 1995 (cat. no. 6203.0)
  • Trade Union Members, Australia, August 1986, August 1988, August 1990, August 1992, August 1996 (cat. no. 6325.0)
  • Trade Union Members, Australia, August 1994 (cat. no. 6325.0.40.001)

31 Limited data on trade union membership have also been published in:
  • Weekly Earnings of Employees (Distribution), Australia, August 1995 (cat. no. 6310.0.40.001)
  • Weekly Earnings of Employees (Distribution), Australia, August 1997 (cat. no. 6310.0)
  • Working Arrangements, Australia, August 1995 (cat. no. 6342.0.40.001)
  • Working Arrangements, Australia, August 1997 (cat. no. 6342.0)


32 ABS surveys draw extensively on information provided 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.


33 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again in August 2004.


34 Other publications which may be of interest include:

  • Australian Labour Market Statistics, cat. no. 6105.0
  • Average Weekly Earnings, Australia, cat. no. 6302.0
  • Career Experience, Australia, cat. no. 6254.0
  • Working Arrangements, Australia, cat. no. 6342.0
  • Industrial Disputes, Australia, cat. no. 6321.0
  • Labour Force, Australia, cat. no. 6202.0
  • Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, Australia, cat. no. 6361.0
  • Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia, Preliminary, cat. no. 6306.0

35 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The Catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site, . The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.

ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ANZSICAustralian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification
ASCOAustralian Standard Classification of Occupations
LFSLabour Force Survey
RSErelative standard error
SACCStandard Australian Classification of Countries
SEstandard error