2007.0.55.001 - Census of Population and Housing: Topic Directions, 2021  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/11/2018   
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Further information from the public consultation phase can be found here: Income and work

TopicsProposed actions

IncomeRetain existing topics, with minor change to be tested.
Sources of income (NEW)Limited case for new topic. Won’t be further considered for collection in the Census; data integration options will be explored.
Labour force statusRetain existing topic without change.
Status in employmentRetain existing topic without change.
Hours workedRetain existing topic without change.
Self-employed - Number of employeesRetain existing topic without change.
OccupationRetain existing topic without change.
Main tasks in occupationRetain existing topic without change.
Industry of employmentRetain existing topic without change.


Submissions confirmed the value of this topic and the need to maintain the level of detail provided through the Census. The question currently includes response options as ranges with equivalent amounts of weekly and annual income. Suggestions for change included expanding the number of response options, increasing the upper level, and collecting income against each source.

While there is strong interest in maintaining the current question, further testing and research will be undertaken to investigate options for respondents to enter their actual income rather than select from a range.

There will be no further investigation into adding a new topic on sources of income to the 2021 Census, but this information might be available through data integration work (i.e. securely combining information from more than one source) or existing comprehensive income surveys such as the Survey of Income and Housing. Internationally, a number of comparable countries are either exploring or now making use of integrated administrative data sources to address the needs around income and sources of income. The ABS is investigating the quality of additional income variables such as main source of income and previous financial year income with the possibility of adding these as experimental items to the 2016 Census.


The work topic encompasses a number of questions on the Census form and produces a range of data outputs, including industry of employment, occupation, hours worked and status in employment.

Knowing how many people in small areas work in different jobs and industries provides information on skill shortages and training needs. Consultation has confirmed that the work data from the Census is vital information and should continue to be collected.

Some submissions identified the need for a better understanding of people with secondary or multiple jobs, distinguishing between casual and permanent employment, and better indicators of underemployment or long-term unemployment. Many of these topics are too complex to measure accurately on the Census. These data needs are better met through other sources such as labour force surveys and the linked employee-employer database (LEED).

New approaches to coding industry and occupation data are being considered. These aim to improve the accuracy of information about a person’s occupation and industry of work with minor impact on the comparability of this information over time. The ABS will provide advice about these impacts to support interpretation.

Submissions suggested a review of the occupation classification (ANZSCO - Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (cat. no. 1220.0)). The ABS recognises that this is desirable, however, as co-owners, the ABS and Statistics New Zealand (Stats NZ) have decided not to undertake this review in the short term. ABS and Stats NZ will reconsider this position in coming years. This classification is used in several surveys beyond the Census, so any review would need to consider the impact on a range of surveys and statistics programs. The suggestions have been captured and will be taken into consideration when the classification is next reviewed.

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