USES OF AN AUSTRALIAN LABOUR ACCOUNT
The Australian Labour Account is an enhancement to the broader set of Australia’s National Accounts. It aims to provide a set of labour related statistics on employed persons, filled jobs, hours and payments that is consistent with the concepts, definitions and scope of the National Accounts.
Labour Account tables are likely to be of most value to people engaged in the use of labour statistics in macro-economic analysis, forecasting and in policy related research. They should also assist economic journalists and public commentators in informing public understanding of labour statistics.
The Australian Labour Account should be used for industry analysis of labour growth and performance in terms of people, jobs, hours, labour costs and income. For example, Labour Force Survey data for employed persons by industry has historically only been available for industry of main job. The expanded scope and additional data sources of the Australian Labour Account includes data for the total number of all secondary jobs (including second, third and fourth job etc), allocated to industry of main and second job. This will allow for the first time an industry perspective of the number of people employed in each industry in a time series. These data can be used by researchers and policy makers to better model how the number of people employed could be impacted by shocks to industry or changes to policy.
The Australian Labour Account is a complement to the existing suite of labour statistics. Users should continue to use the Labour Force, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6202.0) for headline employment, unemployment and persons not in the labour force estimates, as this is the data suite that is internationally comparable and aligned with ILO conventions.
The Australian Labour Account draws on the macro-economic framework and statistical techniques used in the National Accounts to help address the inconsistencies, scope gaps, frequency and timeliness shortcomings of labour data drawn from a variety of business and household surveys and other sources (administrative).
The Australian Labour Account tables are designed for use in macro-economic analysis. It is intended they will provide annual and quarterly data on a similar timetable and at a similar level of industry detail as the National Accounts.
An important use the Australian Labour Account is expected to be in the analysis of productivity, where the Australian Labour Account will provide data on hours worked at an industry level that is more coherent with industry output than data currently available from the household Labour Force Survey.
The Australian Labour Account should assist users in understanding the employment implications, at a macro-economic scale, of developments such as globalisation, new technologies, growth of services and the changing pattern of global demand for resources.
The Australian Labour Account will also help users understand the economic contribution of groups who fall outside the scope of official Labour Force statistics, particularly the role of short-term working visa holders.
The Australian Labour Account tables do not incorporate detailed data on employment by age, gender, income, earnings, employment arrangements, union membership, occupation, educational qualifications, fine level industry classifications or region.
If users require detailed dynamics essential for analysis of individual or household characteristics, they should continue to rely on the Census, household and business surveys, and on exploiting the potential of tax and other administrative transaction records. The Australian Labour Account nevertheless provides a macro-economic context within which to understand and interpret micro-economic labour data.
To enable the international comparison of labour statistics, especially data on employment and un-employment, Australia (along with most countries) follows guidelines and standards established by the ILO. Australia’s official labour force data, derived from the household Labour Force survey and published in Labour Force, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6202.0), remains the source of internationally comparable statistics on the labour force, employment and unemployment.
Due to practical difficulties in consistently measuring work undertaken by certain population groups, particularly children, transient workers and defence force personnel, ILO standards exclude these groups, despite the fact their labour activities contribute to national production (GDP). The Australian Labour Account shows that persons excluded from the scope of official Labour Force Survey statistics account for about 5% of all persons employed in production in Australia. The development of the Australian Labour Account, based on 2008 SNA standards, should assist in making more reliable and transparent comparison of productivity statistics and other data that relate labour inputs to production, earnings and expenditure.
IMPROVING STATISTICAL QUALITY
In the longer term, after peer review and user acceptance of the data quality from the Australian Labour Account, Labour Account data will be used in quality assuring National Accounts data by testing the consistency of related data series, for example by exploring movement in output per hour worked, or changes in average compensation of employees.