1288.0 - Standards for Labour Force Statistics, 1996  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/11/1996   
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Contents >> Labour Force Status >> Introduction

1. An important requirement of an economic and social understanding of a society is to be able to measure the labour force characteristics of the population and the changes which occur over time. The monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and its associated supplementary surveys is the basic and most important source of information about the Labour Force. However, this information is further supplemented by information obtained from the 5 yearly Censuses, the various Special Supplementary Surveys (SSSs) and employer based surveys.

2. Labour force characteristics, when cross-classified with other social, economic and demographic topics, can provide 'all about' data on a particular topic, issue or population group and the information ultimately customised for informed decision making and planning, policy formulation and monitoring, social research and analysis and programme provision and evaluation.

3. Household interviewer based surveys are the most common ABS collection vehicles for a variety of topics, but there are limits to the number and detail of labour force data collection items that can be incorporated. The full or maximum labour force questionnaire is too comprehensive and detailed to be used in a survey that is focused on a particular topic. To overcome this problem a minimum question set has been developed for collections where labour force variables are used as 'explanatory variables' and not intended to produce intrinsic labour force estimates.

4. The 'minimum set' of questions used in household surveys collects information based on the key labour force variables of:

  • Labour force status
  • Employed persons: status in employment
  • Employed persons: hours worked
  • Full-time/part-time status: employed persons
    unemployed persons (whether looking for full-time or part-time work)
  • Unemployed persons: duration of unemployment.
5. A separate standard has been developed for each of these key labour force variables. This standard deals with labour force status.

6. In all household based surveys undertaking to collect data on labour force activity, labour force status must first be established. Question sequencing within the minimum set of questions ensures that respondents are correctly sequenced to questions relevant to their labour force status. Employed persons will be sequenced to questions collecting status in employment, hours worked and full-time/part-time status; unemployed persons will be sequenced to questions about whether they were looking for full-time or part-time work and duration of unemployment

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