6102.0.55.001 - Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, Feb 2018  
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This document was added or updated on 26/05/2020.

BARRIERS AND INCENTIVES TO LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION


INTRODUCTION

The Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation topic was first conducted in 2004-05 as part of the Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS), which is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). This topic is included in the MPHS every two years.

The survey topic collects information about persons aged 18 years and over who are either not employed or who usually work less than 35 hours a week. The survey provides information on characteristics of persons who are not participating, or not participating fully, in the labour force and the factors that influence persons to join or leave the labour force.

This section describes only those aspects of the methodology that were unique to this survey topic and should therefore be read in conjunction with the overview part of this section (Multipurpose Household Survey), which outlines the survey methodology used in the MPHS.


SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE

The Barriers and Incentive to Labour Force Participation survey questionnaire is available from Appendix 2 or Barriers and Incentive to Labour Force Participation, Australia (cat. no. 6239.0), on the Downloads tab.


SURVEY OUTPUT

Data from the survey topic are published in Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia (cat. no. 6238.0). Microdata are available in Table Builder - see Microdata: Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation, Retirement and Retirement Intentions (cat. no. 6238.0.55.001). Other estimates may be available on request.

Data from the survey relate to persons aged 18 years and over. The main populations of interest are persons who are not employed (i.e. either unemployed or not in the labour force), and persons who usually work less than 35 hours a week in all jobs. Estimates are produced on an original basis only (i.e. not seasonally adjusted), and the core content, which is collected each cycle, includes:

Socio-demographic information

Sex; age; marital status; relationship in household; age of youngest child; whether household has children aged under 15 years; state or territory of usual residence; country of birth and period of arrival in Australia; level of highest educational attainment; weekly gross income; sources of income; partner's weekly gross income; household income; and partner's labour force status.

Persons who usually work 0–34 hours per week in all jobs

Hours usually worked in all jobs; status in employment; hours usually worked in main job; satisfaction of hours worked; satisfaction of current work arrangements; occupation; industry; duration of current main job; details of last job; reason for ceasing last full-time job; unpaid activities when not working; whether prefers to work more hours than usually works; preferred number of hours; all reasons for not wanting to work more hours; main childcare reason for not wanting more hours; whether looking for more hours; whether looking for part-time or full-time work; all reasons for not looking for more hours; main reason for not looking for more hours; main reason not available for more hours; and difficulties finding more hours.

Unemployed persons

Duration of current period of unemployment; unpaid activities; difficulties finding work; whether has ever had a full-time job; whether previous work was full-time or part-time; time since last job; employment type of last job; occupation and industry of last job; and reason for ceasing last job.

Persons who aren't in the labour force

Whether would like a paid job; whether would prefer to work full-time or part-time; preferred length/tenure of job; whether would accept a short-term/temporary job; whether available to start work in the reference week; time until available to start work; main reason not available to start work; main child care reason not available to start work; main child care reason not looking for work; main childcare reason for not wanting work; all/main reasons for not wanting to work; whether looking for work; and difficulties finding work.

Additional detail was included in the 2008–09 and 2012–13 survey. The additional data collected included:

  • incentives to join or increase participation in the labour force (work related, skill related, financial, childcare related, caring related and other incentives);
  • lowest gross wage per hour respondents would work for;
  • whether respondents would return to work if important conditions were available; and
  • self-assessed health status.

All data collected are compiled according to concepts and definitions outlined in the sections: The Labour Force Framework; Unemployment; Underutilised Labour; Not in the Labour Force; and, Classifications Used in Labour Statistics.


SCOPE

The scope of this survey topic is restricted to persons aged 18 years and over. The scope of this survey was increased in 2012–13 to include unemployed persons and persons employed less than 35 hours a week in all jobs (an increase from less than 16 hours). The standard scope restrictions for the MPHS outlined in the overview part of the section: Multipurpose Household Survey and also apply to this survey topic.


RELATED SURVEYS

The ABS conducts several surveys to collect information on persons who are not participating, or are not participating fully, in the workforce. The Participation, Job Search and Mobility (PJSM) Survey is conducted throughout Australia in every February, as a supplement to the monthly LFS, to provide information on these persons. The Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation topic is designed to consider and compare various aspects of factors which influence participation.

Data from the supplementary surveys are not directly comparable with data from Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation as there are differences in scope, collection methodology and sample design (including sample size). For example, PJSM is conducted in a particular month each year, whereas Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation data are usually collected over the 12 months of a financial year. Information for the supplementary surveys is collected using the Any Responsible Adult methodology, whereas the Barriers and Incentives topic uses personal interviewing. See the sections: Labour Force Supplementary Surveys and Multipurpose Household Survey for more information.


DATA COMPARABILITY OVER TIME

In order to provide a high degree of consistency and comparability over time, changes to survey methods, survey concepts, data item definitions, frequency of collection, and analysis methods are made as infrequently as possible. Changes affecting the LFS may also affect this survey. Such changes are outlined in the section: Labour Force Comparability Over Time and are not repeated here.

2016–17
  • Release of data using Table Builder for the first time.

2014–15
  • Questions regarding previous full-time job details and main source of current person income were excluded from 2014–15 survey.
  • Enhancements were made to the previous job payment arrangements question, adding the response category of 'Unpaid trainee/work placement'.
  • Questions on why not looking for work or more hours, trouble finding work or more hours and wanting more hours were also enhanced. The response categories of 'No need/satisfied with current arrangements/retired (for now)' and 'Visa requirements' were added to these questions.
  • Questions on incentives to join or increase participation were included. The incentives module used to be collected every second cycle, but is now part of the core content and included in each iteration of the survey.

2012–13
  • The scope of the survey was expanded to include all employed persons who were working less than 35 hours. For previous surveys, only employed persons who worked less than 16 hours were included in the survey.
  • Incentives to join/increase participation in the labour force was included in 2012–13 survey. This module was last collected in the 2008–09 survey.
  • Unemployed persons were asked incentives questions for the first time.
  • Self-assessed health status, whether had private health insurance cover and housing tenure items were included in the 2012–13 survey. These items were last collected in the 2008-09 survey.
  • The following new items were added: satisfaction of hours worked; satisfaction of current work arrangements; main childcare reason for not wanting work/more hours; and long term health conditions. Microdata were not released for the 2012–13 survey.

2010–11
  • Questions on incentives to join or increase participation in the labour force and self-assessed health that were included in the 2008–09 survey, were excluded for this cycle.

2008–09
  • The following new incentives to join/increase participation in the labour force data items were added: work related incentives; financial incentives; childcare related incentives; caring incentives; other incentives; lowest gross wage per hour that respondent would work for; whether respondent would return to work if important conditions were available. The purpose of these items was to inform on the types of incentives to encourage persons to increase their participation.
  • The data items 'self-assessed health status' and 'all reasons not available to start work/more hours' were also added.

2006–07
  • Data on availability was collected in all months for persons who usually worked 0–15 hours per week, and preferred to work more hours but had not done anything in the four weeks prior to the reference week to obtain more hours of work. This data was imputed for the 2004-05 survey.
  • For the data items 'all/main reason for not wanting work/more hours', the response category 'caring for children/pregnancy/home duties' was split.
  • For the data items 'all/main reasons for not wanting work/more hours' the category 'no need/retired from full-time work (for now)' was expanded to 'no need/satisfied with current arrangements/retired from full-time work (for now)'.
  • For the items 'all reasons/main reason not looking for work/more hours', the category 'no need/satisfied with current arrangements/retired from full-time work (for now)' was added, based on detail collected about 'other' type responses.
  • Questions about 'last worked full-time' were changed to 'last worked in a job of 35 hours or more'.
  • For the data item 'preferred number of hours', the actual number of hours was collected for persons not in the labour force who said they would prefer 'full-time hours'.
  • The following data items were added: Main reason not wanting work/more hours; Main childcare reason not looking for work/more hours; Age of youngest child; Partner's labour force status; and Partner's full-time or part-time status in employment.

2004–05
  • Initial survey conducted (August 2004 to June 2005).
  • The scope of the survey includes persons working less than 16 hours.
  • Availability was not determined for those persons who usually worked 0 to 15 hours per week and preferred to work more hours, but had not done anything in the four weeks prior to the reference week to obtain more hours of work. Availability for this group was imputed, based on information collected in the quarter months of the LFS, rather than being directly collected.





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