6226.0.00.001 - Microdata: Participation, Job Search and Mobility, Australia Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/08/2020   
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This document was added or updated on 06/09/2021.

Changes this release

Many improvements have been made to the 2021 PJSM TableBuilder release to simplify the way data items are presented, increase the range of data items available and generally enhance the usability of the product.

Concept groups

The way that data items are arranged in TableBuilder has been changed to better reflect different conceptual groupings (rather than populations and data items). These concepts groups are to assist with understanding the data and using the dataset. Data items are now listed under one of 17 conceptual groups:

  • Available for work or more hours
  • Away from work
  • Barriers to participation
  • Changes in current job over last 12 months
  • Characteristics of current main job
  • Characteristics of employment
  • Characteristics of job 12 months ago
  • Characteristics of last job
  • Demographic
  • Difficulties in finding work
  • Education
  • Families and children
  • Job offers
  • Looking for work or more hours
  • Participation and Underemployment
  • Retrenchment and lost jobs
  • Wanting to work or more hours

Combined items

In previous TableBuilder releases, there were occasions where two separate data items were measuring the same concept but were specific to different sub-populations. For example, "availability to start work last week" was presented as a separate output variable for people not in the labour force and for people who were underemployed. These have now been combined and simplified into single output variables that can be applied across all populations.

Occupation data

Occupation data is now provided to the unit group level (4 digit). TableBuilder may suppress this level if a requested table is too finely detailed. Occupation data can be aggregated to minor, sub-major and major group levels (3, 2 and 1 digit levels) to avoid table suppression.

New Items

Many new items have been added to the 2021 PJSM TableBuilder release, including:
  • Age of youngest child in family (aged 0-14 years)
  • Age of youngest child in household (aged 0-14 years)
  • Elapsed years since completed highest educational attainment
  • Elapsed years since completed highest non-school qualification
  • Expanded labour force status (updated marginal attachment/potential workers framework)
  • Main field of highest non-school qualification
  • Number of children in family (aged 0-14 years)
  • Number of children in household (aged 0-14 years)
  • Number of weeks until available to start work or more hours
  • Steps taken to find work last week
  • Underemployment status (expanded)
  • Underutilisation status
  • Underutilisation status (expanded)
  • Whether access to transport or lack of jobs in locality affected participation in last 12 months
  • Whether away from work last week
  • Whether caring for children affected participation in last 12 months (revised 6 Sep 2021)
  • Whether caring for ill or elderly person affected participation in last 12 months
  • Whether cultural background or language difficulties affected participation in last 12 months
  • Whether engaged in employment, education or training
  • Whether family considerations affected participation in last 12 months (revised 6 Sep 2021)
  • Whether had a job or wanted a job
  • Whether illness, injury or disability affected participation in last 12 months
  • Whether pregnancy or child under 2 years affected participation in last 12 months (revised 6 Sep 2021)
  • Whether retired or intending to retire
  • Whether retrenched from last job (revised 6 Sep 2021)
  • Whether studying or training affected participation in last 12 months
  • Whether unpaid voluntary work affected participation in last 12 months
  • Year of birth


Hours worked, hours preferred and duration data items have been aligned so they all provide data to the same level of detail. There is now consistency in the lowest available level (usually single hours or single weeks), and the way that these items are aggregated into higher level groupings are now consistent. More of these items are now also included as parameters in the "Summation Options." Means, medians, percentiles and custom ranges can now be calculated for the following items:
  • Age [years]
  • Duration of current period of insufficient work [weeks] (was also previously available)
  • Duration of employment in current main job [months] (added 6 Sep 2021)
  • Duration of employment in last job [weeks] (added 6 Sep 2021)
  • Duration of job search [weeks]
  • Duration since last job [weeks]
  • Preferred number of extra weekly hours (was also previously available)
  • Preferred number of total weekly hours
  • Previous usual weekly hours with current employer in last 12 months
  • Usual weekly hours in current main job
  • Usual weekly hours in last job
  • Usual weekly hours worked in job 12 months ago

Not applicable categories

The "Not applicable" categories in each data item now have descriptive labels to describe which populations are not included for the data item. For example, in the data item “Main difficulty in finding work,” the “Not applicable” category has been labelled as “Did not look for work” to indicate that only people who looked for work were asked about any difficulties in finding work.

Other changes
Some data item labels have been revised or shortened to improve interpretability (note that the concepts remain the same).

For more details, including notes on how each data item differs from the 2020 PJSM TableBuilder release, refer to the Data Item List in Downloads

Rebenchmarking and seasonal factor adjustments

Since 2018, the PJSM data have been rebenchmarked every year to reflect the most recently available release of Estimated Resident Population (ERP) data and Labour Force Survey population benchmarks. The data for 2015 to 2021 have been revised to incorporate the population benchmarks that were used to produce estimates published in the April 2021 Labour Force, Australia.

To reduce the impact of seasonal effects on total employment, underemployment and unemployment, the benchmarks have been adjusted by factors based on seasonally adjusted Labour Force Survey estimates (as published in April 2021). For example, February estimates have a typical seasonal pattern of higher unemployment. The factors applied reduce the number of unemployed, to align with seasonally adjusted LFS estimates.

Trend series factors would usually be used in PJSM benchmarks but are currently not available, during the COVID period. Seasonally adjusted factors will be used until trend series are reinstated in Labour Force statistics.

Topic-based publications

From February 2021, statistics from the Participation, Job Search and Mobility survey are now published across three topic-based releases:

Potential workers and marginal attachment to the labour force

This release of statistics from the PJSM survey includes a simpler approach for presenting statistics on unused labour supply. The new "Potential workers" release of PJSM data presents statistics for all people who are not employed (i.e. regardless of their classification in the monthly Labour Force Survey as unemployed or not in the labour force), and the extent to which they may be regarded as "Potential workers" based on their circumstances and activities.

Historically, PJSM content has been presented using the marginal attachment framework and the characteristics of people "not participating in the labour force", based on the criteria used to derive unemployment (i.e. activity and/or availability).

While the new approach to presenting statistics for potential workers differs slightly from the traditional marginal attachment framework, and presents some population groups that do not entirely overlap with some of the marginally attached groups, there is still a strong alignment between them. Also statistics within the traditional marginal attachment framework are still available.

Revisions for people who "had a job to go to"

In 2018, a new category was introduced to the marginal attachment framework – “Had a job to go to.” – to reflect people who reported having a job but were not classified as employed (for example, they had not yet started a new job already obtained, or had been away from work without pay for more than four weeks).

A review of the methods used to categorise people who “had a job to go to” identified that some of the relatively small group of people who were not available to start work within four weeks were inadvertently excluded from this group. As a result, estimates have been revised for the period 2015 to 2021. New sub-categories have also been introduced to separate this group into those who were available to start last week, those who could start within 1-4 weeks, and those who were available in over 4 weeks.

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