6102.0.55.001 - Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, Feb 2018  
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A supplementary topic was included with the Labour Force Survey (LFS) for the first time in November 1961, and this concept was gradually extended so that the majority of months in each year included supplementary questions on one or more topics. As a result of the Information Paper: Outcomes of the Labour Household Surveys Content Review, 2012 (cat. no. 6107.0), there now exists a consolidated Labour Supplementary Survey program with surveys being enumerated in February and August each year.

Each Labour Force Supplementary Survey (LFSS) comprises a series of additional questions asked at the end of each LFS interview. The survey methodology does not differ greatly among the supplementary surveys, and in many aspects is the same as the LFS methodology (outlined in Chapter 19). This chapter describes the broad survey methodology of the supplementary surveys. They should be used in conjunction with Chapters 21.1 to 21.5, which outline elements of the methodology which are unique to each supplementary survey.


From July 2014, the ABS improved the content of the LFS and labour supplementary surveys. See 'Forthcoming changes to ABS Labour Force and Supplementary Surveys' (Appendix) in Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, Australia (cat. no. 6310.0) for more information.

These improvements were previously outlined in July 2012 in the Information Paper: Outcomes of the Labour Household Surveys Content Review (cat. no. 6107.0).

The Characteristics of Employment Survey (COE) combines the key elements from the previous separate Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership Survey (EEBTUM) (cat. no. 6310.0), Forms of Employment Survey (FOES) (cat. no. 6359.0) and Working Time Arrangements Survey (WTA) (cat. no. 6342.0), to provide a comprehensive and coherent dataset on characteristics of persons' employment. See Chapter 21.1 Characteristics of Employment for more information.

The Participation, Job Search and Mobility (PJSM) Survey combines the key elements from the previous separate Persons Not in the Labour Force Survey (PNILF) (cat. no. 6220.0), Underemployed Workers Survey (UEW) (cat. no. 6265.0), Job Search Experience Survey (JSE) (cat. no. 6222.0) and Labour Mobility Survey (LM) (cat. no. 6209.0), to provide a comprehensive and coherent dataset on persons' experiences relating to job search, job change and increasing participation. See Chapter 21.2 for more information.


The LFSSs form an important component of the ABS's household surveys program, which aims:

  • to provide a range of statistics required to monitor the social and economic wellbeing of Australians, with particular reference to important sub-groups of the population; and
  • to support the development, implementation and evaluation of policies and programs of key Commonwealth and State government agencies.

The information requirements of ABS household surveys are determined on the basis of submissions from users on their needs for and uses of household survey data. They also reflect ABS deliberations on what is required of a national statistics program in the various subject fields, based on user contact and consultation.

In the field of labour statistics, supplementary surveys provide detailed information on a range of labour topics and interest groups such as:
  • labour force - labour force experience,
  • employment - underemployment; multiple job holding; forms of employment,
  • employees - earnings; trade union membership; benefits; and working arrangements,
  • unemployment - job search experience; successful and unsuccessful job search,
  • persons not in the labour force - discouraged job seekers; other persons with marginal attachment to the labour force, and
  • persons retrenched or made redundant from work.


A number of data cubes (spreadsheets) are produced from each publication, and are available from the ABS website. The data cubes present tables of estimates and their corresponding Relative Standard Errors (RSEs).

For users who wish to undertake a more detailed analysis of the data, the survey microdata are released through the Table Builder product. For more information, see Table Builder, User Guide (cat. no. 1406.0.55.005).

Special tabulations may be available on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tabulations can be produced from the survey incorporating data items, populations and geographic area selections to meet individual requirements. These can be provided in printed or electronic form. All enquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service.


In addition to those already excluded from the LFS, the following persons are excluded from supplementary surveys (see Chapter 17: Methods Used in ABS Household Surveys for further information):
  • Persons living in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in very remote parts of Australia; and
  • Students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, homes for people with disabilities), and inmates of prisons.

Depending on the topic or population of interest for which information is being collected, there may be further exclusions from scope.


From December 2012 to April 2013, the ABS conducted a trial of online electronic data collection. Respondents in one survey rotation group (i.e. one-eighth of the survey sample) were offered the option of self-completing their LFS questionnaire online instead of via a face-to-face or telephone interview.

From May 2013, the ABS expanded the offer of online electronic collection to 50% of each new incoming rotation group. From September 2013, online electronic collection has been offered to 100% of private dwellings in each incoming rotation group. From April 2014, 100% of private dwellings are being offered online electronic collection. For further information about online electronic collection, see 'Online Collection in the Labour Force Survey' in Labour Force, Australia, Feb 2016 (cat. no. 6202.0)

The collection methodology for the supplementary surveys is generally the same as for the LFS. Interviews are conducted at the same time as interviews for the LFS. Most interviews (about 55%) are conducted by telephone, with about 20% conducted by online electronic collection and the rest conducted face-to-face.

Information about each household member in scope of the supplementary survey is generally collected from one adult using the 'Any Responsible Adult' (ARA) methodology. See Chapter 17 for more information on the ARA methodology.

Response rates for the supplementary surveys are generally slightly lower than for the LFS.


The supplementary surveys use the same sample design as the LFS, and the sample used in the supplementary surveys is a subset of the LFS sample. Persons in the outgoing rotation group in the LFS are excluded from all supplementary surveys.

The sample size for the supplementary surveys varies due to the scope exclusions listed above, as well as specific restrictions for particular supplementary survey topics.


Post-stratification estimation techniques are generally used, with adjustment to account for persons enumerated outside their State of usual residence.

The post-stratification variables generally used are:
  • State/territory of usual residence;
  • Area of usual residence (capital city, balance of State);
  • Labour force status;
  • Sex;
  • Full-time or part-time status; and
  • Age (age groupings generally correspond with those used in post-stratification for the LFS).


Changes to the LFS population benchmarks impact primarily on the magnitude of the LFS estimates (i.e. employment and unemployment) that are directly related to the underlying size of the population. For more details on population benchmarks, see the Explanatory Notes in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0), and for details about the revisions made, see the article in the January 2014 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) and the article in the November 2012 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

Supplementary survey weights use labour force estimates, referred to in this context as pseudo-benchmarks, to supplement independent demographic benchmarks (see Chapter 17 for further information on population benchmarks used in household surveys). As of 2018, the ABS is currently exploring the potential for improving the benchmarking of supplementary surveys, including introducing rebenchmarking.


Seasonally adjusted and trend estimates are not produced for supplementary surveys.


Estimates from supplementary surveys are subject to both sampling and non-sampling error (see Chapter 16: Overview of Survey Methods for more detail). The relative standard errors of survey estimates are published in each supplementary survey publication.


Estimates from successive supplementary surveys on a given topic may not be strictly comparable over time, due to changes in survey scope and concepts measured. In addition, changes affecting the LFS sample and estimation processes will affect supplementary survey estimates. For further discussion of changes to a particular LFSS, see its corresponding Chapter.


PublicationCatalogue NumberFrequencyData Availability
Characteristics of Employment, Australia6333.0AnnualThis product replaces the publications: Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, Australia; Forms of Employment, Australia; Working Time Arrangements; and Locations of Work.

Characteristics of Recent Migrants, Australia6250.0IrregularThis product replaces the publication Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants, Australia.

Child Employment, Australia6211.0IrregularCurrent

Education and Work, Australia6227.0AnnualCurrent

Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, Australia6310.0AnnualThis product has been replaced by Characteristics of Employment

Forms of Employment, Australia6359.0AnnualThis product has been replaced by Characteristics of Employment

Job Search Experience, Australia6222.0AnnualThis product has been replaced by Participation, Job Search and Mobility, Australia

Labour Force Experience, Australia6206.0BiennialDiscontinued

Labour Mobility, Australia6209.0BiennialThis product has been replaced by Participation, Job Search and Mobility, Australia

Locations of Work, Australia6275.0IrregularThis product has been replaced by Characteristics of Employment

Multiple Jobholding, Australia6216.0IrregularLatest data available on request July 2001

Participation, Job Search and Mobility, Australia6226.0AnnualThis product replaces Persons Not in the Labour Force; Underemployed Workers and Job Search Experience, Australia; and Labour Mobility, Australia

Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia6220.0AnnualThis product has been replaced by Participation, Job Search and Mobility, Australia

Persons Not in the Labour Force, Underemployed Workers and Job Search Experience, Australia6226.0.55.001One-off (Bridge)This product has been replaced by Participation, Job Search and Mobility, Australia. Originally, this product replaced the publications: Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia; Underemployed Workers, Australia; and Job Search Experience, Australia

Pregnancy and Employment Transitions, Australia4913.0IrregularCurrent
Underemployed Workers, Australia6265.0AnnualThis product has been replaced by Participation, Job Search and Mobility, Australia

Working Time Arrangements, Australia6342.0IrregularThis product has been replaced by Characteristics of Employment