WHAT'S NEW IN THE LABOUR FORCE
UPCOMING CHANGE TO GEOGRAPHY STANDARD USED IN THE LABOUR FORCE SURVEY
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.
Despite the LFS sample being selected entirely from an ASGS-based design since August 2013, the ABS is continuing to release estimates on the existing Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) basis until the December 2013 issue. From the January 2014 issue, estimates will no longer be released or available on the ASGC. Labour force estimates will be published using ASGS regions from the January 2014 issue onwards and will be backcast to October 1998.
For further information, please refer to the Information Paper: Regional Labour Force Statistics (ABS cat. no. 6262.0), released today.
UPCOMING CHANGE IN COLLECTION PROCEDURES FOR THE LABOUR FORCE SURVEY
The LFS receives a high level of cooperation from individuals in selected dwellings, with the response rate typically ranging from 95 to 97% each month. However, in recent years it has become increasingly difficult to contact persons selected in the Survey due to changes in lifestyles. This has led to significant increases in costs which are not sustainable. In response, the ABS is refining procedures for the collection of Labour Force data. As a result, from 2014 the LFS response rate is expected to range from 93 to 95% each month. Analysis undertaken by the ABS has shown that this will not have a significant impact on the quality of Labour Force estimates at the Australia and State levels. The impact on regional Labour Force data is still being assessed, but it is unlikely to be significant. Response rates for the ABS's LFS will remain higher than those for similar surveys conducted by national statistical offices in comparable countries.
This initiative is part of a broader program of ABS work to enhance the cost-effectiveness of its response follow-up strategies while maintaining the high quality of its statistics. The ABS remains committed to producing high quality labour force estimates and will continue to monitor the estimates to determine if there is any impact from the changed procedures.
NEW RETIREMENT AND LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION DATA AVAILABLE
The ABS's Labour Statistics Program recently released two articles analysing retirement and labour force participation.
'Incentives to join or increase labour force participation' was included in the 28 November release of Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation, Australia, 2012-13 (cat. no. 6239.0). It examines some of the incentives people reported to be 'very important' to encourage them to participate (or increase participation) in the labour force. Both persons not in the labour force and those employed part-time place importance on being able to work part-time hours and being able to work set hours on set days. This highlights the preference for many in these groups to engage in, or maintain, part-time employment to enable them to balance their work with other commitments. The unemployed placed importance on utilising their existing skills/experience and improving their skills through training/study. This demonstrates the importance of skills, experience and job fit in assisting them transition into employment. For females with children aged under 13 years, child care incentives were particularly important.
'Changing retirement intentions and behaviours - an age cohort analysis' was included in the 9 December release of Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia, 2012-13 (cat. no. 6238.0). It compares the retirement intentions and behaviours of four age cohorts in 2012-13 against the expectations of each of the same cohorts in earlier years. The article found that in general, less people were retired in 2012-13 than expected to be when asked in 2004-05, which indicates that people are retiring later than previously intended. While people are remaining in the labour force longer than expected, the proportion of people working part-time before retirement had increased, and there was a decrease in the proportion of people working part-time hours but preferring more hours. Together these findings point to a voluntary transition to retirement through working part-time. It was also found that people were most likely to have government pension as their main source of income at retirement in 2012-13 despite most of the same cohort expecting to retire mainly on superannuation.
500TH LABOUR FORCE SURVEY
On Sunday 1 December, the 500th LFS went into the field for enumeration - 70 quarterly surveys between November 1960 and February 1978 followed by 430 monthly surveys between March 1978 and December 2013.
The LFS is the Bureau's longest running household survey and has provided the basis on which the ABS has built an extensive program of labour and social surveys of the Australian population. The LFS provides official statistics about the number of employed and unemployed Australians and their working arrangements.
ABS household surveys, including the LFS, draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of population and social statistics published by the ABS would not be available.
Results from the 500th LFS will be published on 16 January 2014.