FUTURE DIRECTIONS OF LABOUR STATISTICS
This chapter discusses the future direction of labour statistics in the ABS. It provides a summary of the ABS’ transformation objectives, as they relate to labour statistics, and highlights work being undertaken into the development of new integrated data sources.
The ABS is undertaking a major transformation of its statistical infrastructure, its systems, and its processes used to produce official statistics. This transformation is funded by a $250 million Australian Government investment over five years.
As part of the transformation agenda, enhancements are proposed to improve the management and enumeration of household surveys, including labour household surveys.
The longer term transformation objective is to move away from stand-alone surveys, and towards an integrated and flexible household survey program which is continuously in the field. Due to the need to maintain consistency with existing statistics, this ambition is being approached in an iterative manner, rather than a sudden change.
The ABS is currently exploring how to effectively manage any future transformative change of the labour household surveys, including the Labour Force Survey, to ensure minimal disruption to the production of high quality statistics. Potential improvements, along with associated development and testing strategies, are currently being considered by the ABS in initial consultation with key users and experts.
NEW INTEGRATED DATA
The ABS is undertaking research into the creation of integrated datasets, to deliver new statistical solutions and maximise the value of public data. Within labour statistics, this includes two key projects: the Australian Labour Account and the Linked Employer-Employee Database.
Australian Labour Account
The Australian Labour Account provides a conceptual framework through which existing labour market data from different sources can be confronted and integrated, with the aim of producing a coherent and consistent set of aggregate labour market statistics.
The Australian Labour Account is macroeconomic in scope, building on the International Labour Organisation fundamentals and expanding them to ensure consistency with the Australian System of National Accounts. It aims to extend the analytical capacity of national accounts data by providing a labour-specific lens.
The Australian Labour Account framework has been designed to conceptually align with the System of National Accounts production boundary (see Chapter 2: Institutional Units and the Economically Active Population). This ensures direct compatibility with National Accounts and productivity estimates, as well as providing a mechanism for bringing together conceptually related aggregate data from business, household and administrative sources.
The Australian Labour Account framework incorporates four distinct quadrants: Jobs, Persons, Labour Volume and Labour Payments. The framework covers all types of employment including employees, self-employed and contributing family workers.
In 2017 the first experimental annual estimates produced from the Labour Account were published in Labour Account Australia, Experimental Estimates, July 2017 (cat. no. 6150.0.55.001). The conceptual basis, data sources, and compilation methods were also published in Australian Labour Account: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2017 (cat. no. 6150.0).
Data from the Labour Account are currently available annually; however, the intention is in future to publish the data quarterly. Additional components are also proposed, including more detailed sub-division by industry.
Linked Employer-Employee Database (LEED)
A comprehensive Linked Employer-Employee Database (LEED) would address a longstanding information gap in Australian labour statistics by being capable of answering complex and varied questions about employer-employee relationships, at both a point in time and longitudinally. The creation of a LEED would demonstrate that administrative and directly collected data can be integrated to provide a strong evidence base for research, policy development and evaluation.
LEED Foundation Projects
Through several projects in 2015, the ABS assessed the feasibility of constructing a LEED by integrating unit record Personal Income Tax (PIT) data for the 2011-12 financial year with the unit record business data from the Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (BLADE) (footnote 1) for the same period. These projects, known collectively as the LEED Foundation Projects, culminated in the creation of a Prototype LEED and the release of two statistical outputs.
The Prototype LEED is a dataset generated using a combination of administrative data sourced from the Australian Taxation Office and data held by the ABS. It consists of data on employees, employing businesses (employers) and jobs held throughout the 2011-12 financial year. Comprised of three files and linked using a combination of Australian Business Numbers, Tax File Numbers and information collected by the ABS, the Prototype LEED contains over ten million employee records and over thirteen million job records, which are linked to the records of over six hundred and eighty thousand employing businesses.
There were two statistical releases from the Prototype LEED as part of the LEED Foundation Projects. The first was an information paper and aggregate data, published in Information Paper: Construction of Experimental Statistics on Employee Earnings and Jobs from Administrative Data, Australia, 2011-12 (cat. no. 6311.0). The second was the release of a 10% microdata file and associated information, published in Microdata: Employee Earnings and Jobs, Australia, 2011-12 (cat. no. 6311.0.55.001).
Government projects using the Prototype LEED
The ABS has enabled access for particular projects to the full Prototype LEED for approved staff seconded to the ABS from other government agencies. These projects examined the utility of the Prototype LEED to address a range of policy questions, such as those relating to small-area labour markets and specific industries. The outcomes from these secondments will help to direct future LEED directions.
The lessons learned from the LEED Foundation Projects have provided valuable input to future development. The ABS intends to build on the work done through the LEED Foundation Projects, as well as leverage capabilities developed from the creation and analysis of the BLADE.
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- Then referred to as the Expanded Analytical Business Longitudinal Database. <Back