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 macro-economic in scope, building on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamentals and expanding them to ensure consistency with the Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA). It aims to extend the analytical capacity of national accounts data by providing a labour-specific lens.
The Australian Labour Account produces a set of statistical tables of employment related data that are consistent with the ASNA.
This document describes the concepts, data sources and methods used in compiling the Australian Labour Account. It explains ILO concepts and definitions used in official employment and unemployment statistics derived from the household Labour Force Survey, related frameworks used in compiling National Accounts statistics, and the adjustments required to align the scope of the Labour Account with the ASNA.
There are currently no international standards regarding the production of a labour account, however a four-step process has been documented by the ILO and was followed (to varying degrees) by the National Statistical Organisations in Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland in compiling their own labour accounts. The ILO process has been used as a guide in compiling the Australian Labour Account. For further information on the four-step process, refer to Labour Accounts: A Step Forward to a Coherent and Timely, Description of the Labour Market (footnote 1).
The ILO describes two approaches to compiling a labour account: a cross-sectional approach involving confrontation and reconciliation of key labour market measures, and a longitudinal approach which incorporates changes to population and labour force via births, deaths, and net migration, and includes measures such as duration of employment. The Australian Labour Account focuses on the cross-sectional approach (since this is the approach that supports data confrontation and reconciliation), and also provides a time-series dimension.
The ILO lists six central elements in labour statistics:
- employed persons and jobs;
- unemployed and underemployed persons;
- job vacancies;
- hours of work and full-time equivalents;
- income from employment and labour costs; and
- organisation of the labour market (i.e. statistics on collective labour agreements, industrial disputes and trade-union memberships).
No country has yet compiled a labour account that measures all of these elements. The Australian Labour Account covers most elements listed in the ILO approach, with the exception of data on full-time equivalents and statistics on labour market organisation, although these components could be incorporated as part of future development work. The Australian Labour Account also includes measures of underutilised labour (an estimate of the hours of work sought by the unemployed, plus additional hours sought by the underemployed) and unmet labour demand statistics (through job vacancies).
The development of an annual Australian Labour Account, and in particular a future quarterly labour account disaggregated by industry division, provides an opportunity to significantly improve the quality of aggregates such as the number of jobs occupied within each industry, measures of hours worked, and labour productivity growth.
There is no proposal, at this stage, to move beyond the six central ILO elements and disaggregate the labour account statistics by other dimensions such as State of activity, education, skills, gender, age, or a public/private sector split. However, some further disaggregation is possible should the demand for these data arise.
1. Buhmann, Brigitte; Leunis, Wim P.; Vuille, Alain; Wismer, Kirsten, 2002, Labour Accounts: A Step Forward to a Coherent and Timely Description of the Labour Market,