6333.0 - Characteristics of Employment, Australia, August 2016 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/05/2017   
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The 2016 Survey of Characteristics of Employment (COE) presents information about the distribution of weekly earnings in main job and all jobs, employment arrangements, trade union membership, independent contracting, fixed-term employment and working arrangements and persons who found their job through a labour hire firm or employment agency. The collection of a range of socio-demographic and labour force characteristics makes the datasets produced from the survey extremely valuable for comparing and analysing the distribution of both weekly earnings and employment benefits across different population groups. Data are used in the development and review of wages and labour market policies, and in wage negotiation processes.


The Characteristics of Employment survey is conducted annually in August as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). Results from this survey are released in the publication Characteristics of Employment, Australia (cat. no. 6333.0).


Estimates from the Characteristics of Employment Survey are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. Relative standard error (RSE) is a measure of the size of the sampling error affecting and estimate, i.e. the error introduced by basing estimates on a sample of the population rather than the full population. Non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that occur due to imperfections in reporting by respondents and interviewers, and errors made in coding and processing data.

This publication was designed primarily to provide estimates at the Australia level. Broad estimates are available for state/territory and/or capital city/balance of state, though users should exercise caution when using estimates at this level because of the presence of high sampling errors. Relative Standard Errors for all estimates are available in the relevant Datacube. More information on Standard Errors is available in the Technical Note of this release.

To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used in this release to randomly adjust cell values. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics. After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, adding up cell values to derive a total will not necessarily give the same result as published totals.

For further information regarding the accuracy of the COE survey estimates see the Technical Note.


Caution should be exercised when comparing the estimates from this release with previous similar surveys as some data items have changed and population groups are conceptually different.

Caution should be exercised when comparing results from the 2016 COE to previous Forms of Employment (FOE) (2008–2013) and Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership (EEBTUM) as the population Employees in this release is not directly comparable to the Employees population in both FOE and EEBTUM.

For information on the comparability of time series for the publication Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, Australia (cat. no. 6310.0), see the Explanatory Notes.

For information on the comparability of time series for the publication Forms of Employment, Australia (cat. no. 6359.0), see the Explanatory Notes.

For information on the comparability of time series for the publication Working Time Arrangements, Australia (cat. no. 6342.0), see the Explanatory Notes.


Contained within COE are Datacubes with footnoted data to aid interpretation of the results of the survey. Detailed Explanatory Notes, a Technical Note and a Glossary are also included providing information on the terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.

Further commentary is often available through articles and data published in other ABS products, including:


Characteristics of Employment, Australia (cat. no. 6333.0) is released electronically via the ABS website as Datacubes in spreadsheet format. Additional data may be available on request (subject to data quality). Note that detailed data can be subject to high relative standard errors. Full details of data items for this survey are available from the Downloads tabs in Datacube: COE 2016 Populations and Data items list.

For users who wish to undertake a more detailed analysis of the data, the survey microdata will be released through the TableBuilder product. For more details, refer to the TableBuilder information, Microdata, Characteristics of Employment, Australia (cat. no. 6333.0.00.001). For more information see About TableBuilder.

For further information about ABS data available on request, contact the National Information and Referral Centre on 1300 135 070 or via email to <client.services@abs.gov.au>.