“Benchmarks” refer to the population estimates that Labour Force Survey (LFS) data are aligned to, so that they accurately represent the Australian population. That is, how the monthly survey sample of around 50,000 people can effectively represent the 21 million usually resident civilian population aged 15 years and over.
To ensure that labour force statistics most effectively represent the labour market status of the population, data from the Labour Force Survey are ‘weighted up’ to the population benchmarks. Population benchmarks are based on Australia’s official population statistics – the Estimated Resident Population (ERP).
Every five years, the ABS 'rebases’ Australia’s official population estimates to a new Census. In June 2022, the ERP for Australia and the states and territories were rebased to the 2021 Census, with population estimates revised back to the previous Census base of the June quarter 2016. In the subsequent months, regional population estimates were also rebased and revised. Further information on this can be found in Methodology used in rebased population estimates, June 2021.
Following this, the Labour Force population benchmarks are also updated to reflect the rebased ERP. Rebenchmarking does not involve any change to the underlying data collected in the Labour Force Survey, just the population benchmarks that survey data is weighted to.
This five-yearly process is referred to as “major rebenchmarking”, to differentiate it from the regular and ongoing “quarterly rebenchmarking” undertaken in the February, May, August, and November reference months. See Labour Force, Australia methodology for more information.
Major rebenchmarking has resulted in revisions to Labour Force estimates going back to July 2016. From July 2021, this rebenchmarking also includes revisions to population component data for natural increase, overseas migration, and interstate migration (that is, the regular quarterly rebenchmarking revisions after the most recent Census base).
To help understand these two overlapping rebenchmarking processes, this article presents information on revisions at June 2021 (at the end of the ‘major rebenchmarking revision period) and October 2022 (at the end of the current ‘quarterly revision period’).
Similar to the last five-yearly cycle, Labour Force estimates will undergo a second major rebenchmarking to the final rebased ERP in the November 2023 issue, in December 2023.