6102.0.55.001 - Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, Feb 2018  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/02/2018   
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This document was added or updated on 26/05/2020.



The Job Vacancies Survey (JVS) was first conducted in 1974 and has been conducted on a quarterly basis since 1979, with the exception of a suspension for five quarters between August 2008 and August 2009. The survey produces estimates of the number of job vacancies in Australia, which are used as a leading indicator of employment growth in monitoring of the Australian labour market and economy, and for formulating economic policy.


Estimates are published quarterly in Job Vacancies, Australia (cat. no. 6354.0).

The population of interest is civilian employee job vacancies, available for immediate filling on the survey reference date, excluding vacancies for jobs based outside Australia. Data compiled from the job vacancies survey are available by:

  • state and territory;
  • sector (private/public); and
  • industry.

Data published for the job vacancies series by sector are available on an original, seasonally adjusted, and trend basis. Industry and state data are only published on an original basis. As a result of JVS being suspended in 2008 and 2009, there is a gap in all series: original, seasonally adjusted and trend, for five quarters between August 2008 and August 2009 inclusive.

Estimates are compiled according to the concepts and definitions outlined in the Job Vacancies section.


The scope of the survey is restricted to employing businesses. In addition, the standard scope exclusions for ABS labour-related business surveys (outlined in the section: Methods Used in ABS Business Surveys) apply to this survey.


Details of the total number of job vacancies available for immediate filling on the survey reference date are obtained on a quarterly basis from selected businesses. Data are collected via online electronic collection, and/or telephone interviews.

The survey reference date for job vacancies is the third Friday in the middle month of the quarter.

Follow-up procedures are in place to obtain information from respondents who don't lodge a completed form by the due date. A minimum response of 95% is generally achieved for the survey as a whole, and approximately 90% for each state and/or industry.


A probability sample of statistical units (employing businesses) is drawn from the ABS Business Register using the process outlined in the section: Methods Used in ABS Business Surveys. Variables used to stratify the survey frame are:

  • public/private sector;
  • industry;
  • state/territory; and
  • employment size – the ranges used vary between states/territories and industries.

Statistical units with benchmark employment greater than a set cut off (this cut off will vary for different states/territories) are completely enumerated. Strata with a very small number of statistical units may also be completely enumerated, but such strata may become sampled strata if the number of units increases sufficiently.

In addition to constraints outlined in the section: Methods Used in ABS Business Surveys, sample selection is constrained by ensuring that there is minimum overlap with other labour-related business surveys.


Approximately 5,500 statistical units are selected in the sample to yield a live sample of approximately 5,130 units.

The sample is allocated optimally across the strata using a technique designed to minimise the variance of job vacancies estimates at both the national and state/territory level.


The sample is updated each quarter to reflect changes in the ABS Business Register. Approximately 8% of the sample for the non-completely enumerated strata is replaced each quarter. The JVS population is updated quarterly to take account of:

  • new businesses;
  • businesses which have ceased employing;
  • changes in employment levels;
  • changes in industry;
  • takeovers and mergers; and
  • other general business changes.

Sample rotation is implemented for the majority of strata, but is not implemented where the population of a stratum is so small that units rotating out of the sample would be rotated back in after only a short interval.


Number raised estimation is used in all strata.

For non-responding units in the sampled strata, the Live Respondent Mean method of imputation is used.

For non-responding units in the completely enumerated (CE) strata, an imputed growth rate is applied to the previous quarter's reported value for that unit. Growth rates are estimated for each industry division, based on data provided by CE units in the current and previous quarter. Where data for non-responding CE units have not been reported in the previous quarter, ratio imputation is used. The ratio of job vacancies to benchmark employment is calculated at industry division level for responding units from the current quarter. This ratio is then applied to the benchmark employment for the non-responding unit to arrive at the imputed value for job vacancies.

Prior to November 2017, survey outliers were handled by using the 'surprise outlier' technique. From November 2017, the winsorisation methodology was introduced as the primary method to treat outliers in JVS. Winsorisation moderates the impact of an outlier business without the harsh impact of the surprise outliering approach. For more information, refer to the section: Overview of Survey Methods.

Survey estimates include an adjustment called Business Provisions, to allow for births and resurrections of businesses that have occurred up to the end of the survey reference period but which are not reflected on the survey frame.

For further information on estimation methods used in ABS business surveys, refer to the section: Methods Used in ABS Business Surveys.


Estimates from the survey are subject to both sampling and non-sampling error. The standard errors of survey estimates are published in Job Vacancies, Australia (cat. no. 6354.0). For further information on sampling and non-sampling error, refer to the section: Overview of Survey Methods.

The Bootstrap technique is used to calculate estimates of variance for this survey. The Bootstrap is a variance estimation method which relies on the use of replicate samples, essentially sampling from within the main sample. Each of these replicate samples is then used to calculate a replicate estimate and the variation in these replicate estimates is used to calculate the variance of a particular estimate.


The JVS was suspended following the May 2008 survey and was reinstated for the November 2009 survey. As a result of JVS being suspended, there is a gap in all series: original, seasonally adjusted and trend, for five quarters between August 2008 and August 2009 inclusive. The ABS cannot produce reliable estimates by collecting this missing data retrospectively, and has not been able to fill the gap using other data sources. For further information, see the Information Paper: Reinstatement of Job Vacancies Survey (cat. no. 6354.0.55.001).

In order to provide a high degree of consistency and comparability over time, changes to survey methods, concepts, data item definitions, and frequency of collection are made as infrequently as possible. Significant changes have included:

  • From the November 2017 issue, winsorisation methodology was introduced as the primary method to treat outliers in JVS replacing 'surprise outliering' as the primary methodology. For more information, refer to the section: Overview of Survey Methods.

  • Online electronic collection introduced from February 2014 reference period.

  • Estimates from reinstated survey first published for the February 2010 reference period.
  • Trend estimates for November 2009 onwards reintroduced from the August 2010 issue.

  • Survey reinstated for the November 2009 reference period, with a new sample based on ANZSIC 2006 industry basis.
  • Survey sample and outputs redesigned on ANZSIC 2006 industry basis from November 2009, but historical ANZSIC 1993 series up to May 2008 were not back cast.

  • Survey suspended for five quarters from August 2008 to August 2009 inclusive.

  • Concurrent seasonal adjustment method introduced, replacing the forward factor adjustment method previously used.

  • Collection of number of employees discontinued.
  • Publication of job vacancy rate discontinued.

  • Changes to the ABS Business Register and the ABS statistical units model arising from the New Tax System. Changes did not affect the continuity of the key statistical series.

  • Introduction of Live Respondent Mean imputation for the sampled sector, and the Business Provisions adjustment for the private sector.
  • Overtime component discontinued.
  • Significant improvement in collection procedures, including improved questionnaire design, and improved coverage of vacancies within statistical units.

  • Treatment of Australian Public Service vacancies changed (from being excluded to being included) after vacancies were made available to all Australian citizens.

  • Survey redesigned on an ANZSIC (1993) industry basis. The historical Industry series data was back cast on an ANZSIC 1993 basis.
  • Sample rotation increased from approximately 5% to approximately 8% in rotating strata.

  • Trend estimates published for the first time.

  • Seasonally adjusted series produced for the first time (November).
  • Collection of job vacancies registered with CES discontinued.
  • Job Vacancies, Australia (cat. no. 6231.0) and Overtime, Australia (cat. no. 6330.0) merged into Job Vacancies and Overtime, Australia publication (cat. no. 6354.0).

  • ABS publication of job vacancies registered with the CES discontinued. This data was available via special data service in 1988.

  • Job vacancies data published by sector for the first time.

  • Collection of vacancies classified by sex discontinued.

  • First collection of job vacancies registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) (continued on annual basis).

  • Quarterly survey reintroduced.
  • Treatment of Australian Public Service vacancies changed to exclude "vacancies" only available to public service employees.

  • Annual and quarterly surveys discontinued.

  • Introduction of a smaller scale quarterly telephone-based survey.
  • Sample based on lists of private and public employers.

  • Annual Job Vacancies Survey via mail-out commenced (largely to investigate practicality of a JVS).