6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Apr 2020 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/05/2020   
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NET OVERSEAS MIGRATION REVISION IN LABOUR FORCE BENCHMARKS DURING COVID-19


To ensure the ongoing production of fit for purpose official statistics through the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABS has been assessing the likely impact of changed traveller behaviour on preliminary Net Overseas Migration (NOM) estimates. These NOM estimates feed into Australia's official population estimates and, in turn, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) benchmarks.

The ABS uses the '12/16 month rule' when measuring NOM, with estimates first published as preliminary, and then revised after 12 months. To estimate preliminary NOM, a propensity model is used based on the likelihood a traveller will remain in Australia for the next 12 out of 16 months. After 16 months, when the outcome is known, NOM can be finalised (reflected as revisions within the Estimated Resident Population (ERP)).

Historically, the model which underpins preliminary NOM performs well and these revisions are generally small. This model draws on the behaviour of travellers with similar characteristics from 12 month previously, which is usually a strong predictor of the outcomes of those arriving in the same month of the following year. The same process applies to departures.

However, due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19, the relationship between traveller behaviour in 2020 and that of 12 months ago is unlikely to hold, potentially leading to larger revisions. As a result, preliminary NOM data will now be revised every quarter, instead of the current approach of revising once after four quarters.

These more frequent revisions will ensure the most timely and accurate data are fed into ERP, and into LFS benchmarks.

This new approach to revisions will be implemented into:

  • NOM and ERP in respect of the December quarter 2019 – due for release in Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) on 18 June 2020; and
  • labour force estimates (as part of the quarterly rebenchmarking process) in respect of May 2020 onwards – due for release in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) on 18 June 2020.

This quarterly approach to NOM revisions will be reviewed after four quarters.


Further information

For further information, please email labour.statistics@abs.gov.au.