2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia , 2016  
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Public/Private Sector Indicator (GNGP)

This variable classifies employed people according to whether they are employed in the government (public) or non-government (private) sector. The public sector is further broken down into National, State and Territory or Local Government. This variable is applicable to all persons aged 15 years or older who list their employment status as 'employed'.

How this variable is created

Public/Private Sector Indicator data is derived from responses to a number of questions on the form. Images of these questions are provided below.

It is closely linked with those questions used to determine Industry of Employment. These questions include:


    Question 40 The business name of the person's employer.
    Question 41 The workplace address of the person's employer.
    Question 42 The type of industry the person identifies with.
    Question 43 The main goods or services produced by the person's employer.

Data for GNGP is captured automatically from written numeric responses to these questions. This process is subject to low levels of recognition error. The data are subject to sample checks to ensure an acceptable level of quality.

In 2011, GNGP was autocoded along with Industry (INDP) using versions of ABS's Business Register, however this was reliant on respondents reporting Business Name correctly. In cases where GNGP could not be determined through autocoding, responses were examined by ABS clerical staff and independently assessed for a GNGP code. Responses were coded to 'private' in the absence of any information suggesting that a 'government' classification was more appropriate.

In 2016 there was a change to coding GNGP. GNGP coding was conducted along the same lines as the 2006 process where records were autocoded in order to assign an Industry ANZSIC code. This ANZSIC code was then used to assign a GNGP code via an automated Index process. Where responses were not assigned a GNGP code automatically, they were coded manually using the Groomed Business Name Index. Additional to this, there were 8 ANZSIC codes that were excluded from the automated GNGP process due to the variation of the industry sector. These were primarily in the health and education industries. Those particular codes were then manually assigned a GNGP code using information available on the Business Register Integrated Management system.

Targeted supplementary questions (TSQ) were introduced in the 2016 online Census form for Industry and were also subject to GNGP coding. Form more information on TSQ for Industry, refer to Industry of Employment (INDP) quality statement.

Variable history

While questions on what industry people are employed in has been asked in all censuses since 1911, a separate variable to classify the sector as public or private was first provided for the 1971 Census. In 2016 this variable was renamed from 'Public/Private Employer Indicator' which was used in 2011.

Over time the name of this variable has changed, but the meaning and the purpose of the question has remained the same.

  • 1971 Industry Sector (GOVT)
  • 1976 - 2006 Industry Sector (GNGP) - noting that in 1996-2001 a category for Community Development Employment Program was included
  • 2011-2016 Public/Private Employer Indicator (GNGP)

Non-response rate

Non-response rate only applies to data items that directly reflect responses to individual Census form questions. Public/Private Sector Indicator does not have a non-response rate as it is a derived value created during Census processing for applicable persons. For more information, refer to Understanding Census data quality.

Data usage notes

In 2011, the responses for the the Industry category 'Public Administration, nfd' (Industry classification code 7500) were classified as 'Private sector' for the Public/Private Sector Indicator (GNGP) variable, rather than the other non-private categories Similarly, 2.0% of the responses for the Industry category 'Defence' (Industry classification code 7600) were classified as 'Private sector' for the Public/Private Sector Indicator (GNGP).

In 2016, responses for these two categories of 'Public Administration, nfd' are still classified as 'Private Sector', and 'Defence'.


Further information

A definition of Public/Private Sector Indicator is available in the 2016 Census Dictionary.
For information related to Public/Private Sector Indicator, see data quality statements for Industry of Employment and Labour Force Status.

Household form question image

Data for this variable is derived from questions 40 to 43 on the Census Household Form.

Questions 40, 41, 42 and 43 as they appear on the 2016 Census Household Paper Form:

Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 40. For the main job held last week, what was the employer's business name?
Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 41. For the main job held last week, what was the person's workplace address?
Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 42. What best describes the industry or business of the employer at the location where the person works?
Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 43. What are the main goods produced or main services provided by the employer's business?
A text only version of the online Census Household form is available from the Downloads tab.