2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia , 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/05/2018  First Issue
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Understanding Place of Work Data

People use Place of Work data for a variety of reasons, including when making assessments of public transport needs, commuting distance and environmental related aspects of travelling, as well as for assessing local opportunities for work. Census is the only data source for which this specific information is available Australia wide on a small area basis. Place of Work information is only applicable to the 10.1 million people in employment in the week before Census night.

Place of Work (POWP) data provides information on where employed people aged 15 years or over worked in the week prior to Census Night. POWP data is determined from the written responses to the ‘Business name’ and ‘Workplace address’ questions on the Census form about the main place of work last week. It is coded to geographic areas known as Destination Zones (DZNs). The data from POWP, Place of Usual Residence (PURP) and Method of Travel to Work (MTWP) can be cross classified to provide Journey to Work data, which can be used to examine the movements of people to and from work, to analyse transport patterns and to assist in planning for the development of transport systems. A detailed description of Place of Work can be found in the 2016 Census Dictionary.

Method of Transport

Method of Travel to Work provides information on the transport methods employed people aged 15 years or over used to get to work on Census day itself. On the Census household form respondents were able to record up to three different responses for method of transport. However, it should be noted that the majority of people only listed one transport, with only around 3.8% of respondents having listed multiple modes of transport. One exception was walking which is only included where walking was the sole method of transport to work, e.g. a person who wrote catching the train then walking to work would be listed simply as catching the train to work.

image: Method of Travel to work TableBuilder output - Showing all responses totaling 100%

The full listing of the combinations for multiple transports can be found in the 2016 Census Dictionary. These can be re-grouped or recoded in different ways to be more useful to the data users. A number of people did not go to work or worked at home on Census Day and this should be remembered when validating MTWP numbers against the number of total people employed.

Interpreting the Data

The data items related to Place of Work all have different time references. This can have major implications when considering how to interpret the data.

    • Area of Enumeration refers to the place where an individual person was counted on Census Night
    • Place of Usual Residence is where a person usually lives. It may, or may not, be the place where that person was counted on Census night.
    • Method of Travel to Work refers to how a person travelled to work on the DAY of the Census.
    • Place of Work refers to the address of the main job the specific Census respondent held in the WEEK prior to the Census.
This difference in time frames can produce outliers in the data due to a variety of legitimate reasons.

Example 1: A person ‘walked’ to Brisbane from the Gold Coast

A person spent the night before the Census in Brisbane with a friend and then walked to work in Brisbane City. After work she caught a train back to her parent's home on the Gold Coast (which she regarded as her usual place of residence) on the evening of Census night, which was the location where she was enumerated.

Example 1
Area of EnumerationGold Coast
Place of Usual ResidenceGold Coast
Place of WorkBrisbane City
Method of Transport to WorkWalked Only

Example 2: 'Caught a ferry to Alice Springs from Manly’

A person mainly worked in Alice Springs during the week prior to the Census. However the person could have either:
    • Moved to Sydney in the intervening week and taken a ferry to their new place of employment, or
    • Been a Fly-in/Fly-out worker who usually lived in Sydney and was enumerated at home, and who temporarily visited the Sydney head office that day, before heading back to Alice Springs for another work stint later in that week.

Example 2
Area of EnumerationManly
Place of Usual ResidenceManly
Place of WorkAlice Springs
Method of Transport to WorkFerry

Which to use: Area of Enumeration or Place of Usual Residence?

Both Area of Enumeration and Place of Usual Residence are valid ways of determining place of origin but they will tell you different things. Some things to think about are:
    • Fly-in/Fly-out workers and the different ways they may have reported themselves on the form.
    • Enumeration will show a more ‘average winter day’ of the year (regarding visiting or holidaying tendencies) whereas usual residence may demonstrate more long term trends.
    • Usual residence is unlikely to reflect ‘an average day’, especially in inner city areas where numerous visitors may use transport (such as taxis and ferries) but who do not usually live in those specific areas.

Please see Place of Enumeration vs Place of Usual Residence for further information.


Why am I not getting any data?

It may be possible that there are no people who usually reside in one particular area and who work in another particular area. This is particularly so if you are cross-classifying Place of Work data with other variables such as occupation, industry and method of travel to work.

I am trying to get a reasonable comparison with other survey data

Be careful of the geography you are using. If you are trying to compare to other surveys, double check the definition of the geography for each. The area of the 'postcode' of one may not necessarily match up with the ASGS.

My totals don't add up

Be careful when validating against employed totals. Reasons for figures not adding up include:

    • Not including the Not Stated category of POWP
    • Not including the Not Stated category of MTWP
    • If Labour Force is Not Stated, then the POWP of that person is coded ‘Not Applicable’
    • If using 1996 data, DNSP must be used in conjunction with DNZP to fully define the DNZs
    • The removal of additivity in the process of perturbation
    I am trying to compare Place of Work data over different Censuses

    Place of Work data has been produced since 1971, however the destination zones have been redefined on each occasion to take into account changes and growth within each state and territory. Therefore data is not comparable across Censuses. Other reasons include:

      • Data was not available at Destination Zone level prior to 2011, except by customised data request.
      • Changes to the question about Place of Work, especially in the instructions for people with no place of work, and in coding persons to ‘not applicable’ and ‘not stated’ categories.
      • The 2016 Census is the first time the IFPOWP variable, which allows data users to identify not only if a destination zone has been imputed, but precisely how much information the respondent had provided about their Place of Work. Prior to 2016, Place of Work was listed as “Not Stated” for respondents who did not provide enough information.
      • Prior to 1986, all data was at the LGA level rather than SLA level. This is because the Australian Statistical Geography Classification was first introduced during the 1986 Census.
      • Furthermore, prior to 2001 Journey to Work data was available only for those people who lived and worked within study areas. Those who worked outside the study area (but were enumerated within it) were coded as 'Worked Outside Study Area'. Those persons enumerated outside the study areas were not included in the data, regardless of where they worked.

    I want to cross-tabulate Place of Work with other geographies.

    A table cross-referencing SA2 of origin (Place of Usual Residence) by SA2 of destination (Place of Work) for all of Australia should be avoided due to its size and difficulties in processing. A similar table could be attempted at a state level with additional cross-border SA2s added in. Areas that are smaller than an SA2 should not be cross-tabulated with Place of Work even at a state level.

    Statistical Areas Level 1 (SA1) and destination zones should only be attempted for specific areas of interest.

    It is important to calculate cell counts before attempting a Place of Work table as they can very easily exceed the maximum table size recommendation of being equal to or less than the target population (i.e. employed persons, or a subset thereof).