6248.0.55.002 - Employment and Earnings, Public Sector, Australia, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2012   
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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.


Statistics on public sector employees and cash wages and salaries presented in this publication are obtained from the annual Survey of Employment and Earnings (SEE). The SEE is an Australia-wide survey covering a sample of federal, state and local government agencies. Estimates of employee earnings for the public sector are a key input to the gross domestic product component of the Australian National Accounts, specifically compensation of employees estimates. Data are also used by federal and state departments and other analysts to monitor employment and earnings trends in the public sector and to assist in developing and reviewing earnings and labour market policies.

Estimates are available by state/territory, level of government and industry.


The reference period for the SEE is the year ending 30 June. Employment is reported from providers' payroll records, for the last pay period ending on or before 30 June. Employees remuneration data are reported on a cash basis from payroll records for payments made during the financial year.

Survey estimates are released approximately five months after the reference period.


The ABS aims to produce high quality data from its collections while minimising the reporting burden on businesses. To achieve this, extensive effort is put into survey and questionnaire design, collection procedures and processing.

Two types of error can occur in estimates that are based on a sample survey: sampling error and non-sampling error.

Sampling error occurs when a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed. It reflects the difference between estimates based on a sample and those that would have been obtained had a census been conducted. One measure of this difference is the standard error. There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one standard error from the figure that would have been obtained if all businesses had been included in the survey, and about nineteen chances in twenty that the difference will be less than two standard errors.

Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort was made to minimise reporting error, by the careful design of questionnaires, intensive training of survey analysts, and efficient data processing procedures.

Non-sampling error also occurs when information cannot be obtained from all businesses selected in the survey. For the 2011-12 Survey of Employment and earnings, there was a 98.6% response rate from all businesses that were surveyed and found to be operating during the reference period. Data were imputed for the remaining 1.4% of operating businesses. This imputation contributed 0.5% to the estimate for employment and 0.6% for cash wages and salaries at the Australia level.


The annual SEE series, based on information obtained from a sample survey of public sector employers on the ABS Business Register, was introduced for the 2007-08 financial year. Prior to 2007-08 the survey was undertaken on a quarterly basis. Data for the private sector were collected in the quarterly SEE up to March quarter 2002.

The conceptual basis of employee earnings statistics, produced from the annual SEE and presented in this publication, is based on the Australian conceptual framework for measures of employee remuneration, as described in Information Paper: Changes to ABS Measures of Employee Remuneration, 2006 (cat. no. 6313.0).

The measure of employee earnings presented for the annual series is 'cash wages and salaries', which is regular and irregular wages and salaries in cash, including amounts salary sacrificed.

The SEE uses Australian standard classifications to facilitate data comparability across statistical series. Industry data for 2007-08 onwards are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 edition (cat. no. 1292.0).

The ABS also implemented improvements to the ABS Business Register commencing with the 2008-09 SEE which has enabled the sample size to be decreased. This has, however, resulted in increased standard errors.

Estimates of public sector employment and earnings can be affected by the following factors over time:

  • privatisation of public financial and public trading enterprises
  • changes to machinery of government
  • other changes to statistical unit structures
Care should therefore be taken when comparing data for the public sector over time.

In addition to the SEE, the ABS conducts a number of other sample surveys of businesses which collect information about employee earnings. These include the Average Weekly Earnings survey, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, Wage Price Index Survey and Major Labour Costs Survey. It is important to note that these surveys have different purposes and that there are differences in the concepts, scope, sample selection and estimation methodologies used.


Employment and Earnings, Public Sector, Australia (cat. no. 6248.0.55.002) contains Explanatory Notes, a Glossary and a Technical Note which provide further information about data sources, terminology and other technical aspects of the series.


Employment and Earnings, Public Sector, Australia (cat. no. 6248.0.55.002) is available from the ABS website free of charge.

If the information you require is not available as a standard product or service, then ABS Consultancy Services may be able to help you with customised services to suit your needs. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.