THE LABOUR FORCE SURVEY
One of the most important Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) labour collections is the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The ABS has conducted the LFS since 1960, first as a quarterly collection and then monthly from February 1978. The LFS collects information from the occupants of a sample of approximately 24,000 dwellings to estimate the labour market activity of Australia's resident civilian population aged 15 years and over. The LFS is designed primarily to provide estimates of key labour force statistics for the whole of Australia and, secondarily, for each state and territory.
The LFS statistics of most interest are the monthly estimates of the number of people employed and unemployed, the unemployment rate and the labour force participation rate. Other data collected monthly or quarterly include hours worked, industry and occupation of employed persons, and duration of unemployment.
FAMILY ESTIMATES FROM THE LFS
Since the 1970s, family estimates have been produced as a by-product of the LFS. Family type data are derived from questions which establish the relationships between members of the households selected in the survey.
In the LFS, a family is defined as:
Two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering; and who are usually resident in the same household. The basis of a family is formed by identifying the presence of a couple relationship, lone parent-child relationship or other blood relationship. Some households will, therefore, contain more than one family.
A 'couple relationship' includes same-sex couples.
The main source of published LFS family estimates is a series of datacubes released annually in Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Families - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6224.0.55.001). Relationship data at the person level are published each month in datacubes in Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001). Family and relationship tables are also included in the quarterly publication Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0).
Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Families - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6224.0.55.001) contains data for each June, on the number of each family type (for example, couple family/lone parent family, with/without dependants), number of dependent children, age group of dependent children and selected labour force information for the family members.
OBJECTIVES OF THIS INFORMATION PAPER
This paper provides information about improvements to be made from October 2008 to family estimates from the LFS and resulting changes to LFS families products. The estimates will make greater use of available information and will be produced using an improved estimation methodology.
Specifically, the paper details:
- the current estimation method;
- the improved estimation method;
- the impact on family estimates resulting from the changed methodology; and
- provides comparisons with other ABS family estimates.
Finally, a range of graphs are presented which highlights the outcomes from the adoption of the new methodology in terms of family estimates from the LFS.