The Labour Statistics Program provides evidence to support labour market, economic and social analysis through the provision of high quality labour statistics in a timely, efficient and effective manner. The program provides information about the structure and performance of the labour market, including statistics on labour supply (such as labour force participation, employment, hours worked, unemployment and labour underutilisation); labour demand (job vacancies); employment conditions and working arrangements; employee earnings and labour costs; and workplace relations.
Labour statistics are used extensively in the analysis, evaluation, and monitoring of the economy; the labour market; and a wide range of government policies and programs (such as those relating to employment, income support, workplace relations). Statistics on labour costs are also used in compiling the Australian National Accounts.
The main clients of the program are Australian government agencies (including the Treasury, the Reserve Bank of Australia, Fair Work Commission, the Productivity Commission, the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the Departments of: Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; and Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs), state and territory government agencies, industry associations, trade unions and academic researchers.
Key statistics on labour supply, including labour force participation, employment, unemployment, underutilisation and hours worked are published either monthly in Labour Force, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6202.0) and Labour Force, Australia detailed electronic delivery (ABS cat. no. 6291.0.55.001); or quarterly in Labour Force, Australia, detailed quarterly (ABS cat. no. 6291.0.55.003). Statistics on particular aspects of labour supply, such as labour mobility, underemployment, job search experience, retirement and retirement intentions, barriers and incentives to labour force participation, and marginal attachment to the labour force, are published periodically.
Statistics on job vacancies, i.e. unmet demand for labour, are released quarterly in Job Vacancies, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6354.0). Statistics on characteristics of employees' working arrangements, working time arrangements, forms of employment, independent contracting, and labour hire are also published periodically. Statistics about industrial relations include trade union membership annually, industrial disputes quarterly, and award and agreement coverage every two years.
Statistics on average weekly earnings of employees are released biannually in Average Weekly Earnings, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6302.0). Employee earnings data are available annually together with employment and demographic characteristics. Earnings and employment data for the public sector are available annually. Distributional data on employee earnings and hours, and occupational earnings are available every two years. Data on major labour costs are produced on an infrequent basis.
The publication Australian Labour Market Statistics (ABS cat. no. 6105.0) is produced on an irregular basis and supports the release of analytical data series, such as volume measures of labour underutilisation, and feature articles on current labour market issues.
The main medium-term developments in the program are to:
- introduce flexibility for respondents through the development and implementation of an online household and business questionnaires - due 2013-14
- implement new population benchmarks for the Labour Force Survey and make historical revisions to series, based on revised population estimates following the 2011 Census - due February 2014
- implement quarterly rebenchmarking for the Labour Force Survey to reflect the most up-to-date information on the population - from February 2014
- review the concepts and content of the Industrial Disputes collection - due June 2014
- review the concepts and content of the Employee Earnings and Hours collection - due June 2014
- implement the recommendations from a review of the content of the labour household survey program - progressively from July 2014
- contribute to the revision of the International Labour Organisation standards for work and labour force statistics, and determine the implications for the Labour Force Survey - by July 2015
- develop conceptual frameworks for a number of areas of labour market statistics including workplace relations, non-standard working arrangements and marginal attachment - by December 2015.
Bernard Williams, Assistant Statistician, Labour Statistics Branch
Topics @ a Glance - Labour