6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Oct 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/11/2003   
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Sep 03
to Oct

Employed persons ('000)
Unemployed persons ('000)
Unemployment rate (%)
Participation rate (%)
Seasonally Adjusted
Employed persons ('000)
Unemployed persons ('000)
Unemployment rate (%)
Participation rate (%)

Graph - Employed persons
Graph - Unemployment rate


  • EMPLOYMENT increased to 9,565,800.
  • UNEMPLOYMENT decreased to 581,800.
  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE decreased to 5.7%.
  • PARTICIPATION RATE remained at 63.5%.

  • EMPLOYMENT increased by 69,200 to 9,616,800. Full-time employment increased by 19,900 to 6,884,700 and part-time employment increased by 49,300 to 2,732,200.
  • UNEMPLOYMENT decreased by 10,300 to 575,100. The number of persons looking for full-time work decreased by 15,200 to 430,400 and the number of persons looking for part-time work increased by 4,900 to 144,700.
  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 5.6%. The male unemployment rate remained at 5.6% and the female rate decreased by 0.3 percentage points to 5.7%. NSW 5.6% (5.6% last month), Vic 5.4% (5.2%), Qld 6.1% (6.3%), SA 6.1% (6.1%), WA 6.2% (6.1%), Tas 6.9% (6.7%).
  • PARTICIPATION RATE increased by 0.2 percentage points to 63.8%.



The ABS has begun the progressive implementation of computer assisted interviewing (CAI) into the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Under CAI, interviewers record responses directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a laptop computer.

In the October survey, the CAI method was used on a random 10% sub-sample of survey interviews. The remaining 90% of interviews were conducted using the traditional 'pen and paper' method.

The changes to the interviewing method are not expected to affect the published estimates in any meaningful way. Nonetheless, the ABS is monitoring the situation carefully and has conducted a range of analyses on October data. These analyses have confirmed that any effect that the change in interview method in the 10% CAI sub-sample may have had on survey responses has not materially affected the aggregate estimates for October.

The proportion of LFS interviews conducted using CAI will remain at 10% for the November, December and January surveys. Subject to further analysis continuing to confirm that the change in method is not having a significant impact on survey estimates, the use of CAI will increase to 40% of interviews in February 2004, then to 70% in April 2004, and finally to 100% in May 2004.

Users will continue to be informed of the progress of CAI implementation, including the results of further analyses, through updates in this publication.


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Craig Blair on (02) 6252 6525.



This publication and associated products are being redesigned to improve the presentation of data for persons aged 15-19 years, to give greater focus to trend data, and to provide longer time series. The November 2003 issue, to be released on 11 December 2003, will be the first to incorporate these changes.

Further information on these changes is available in Information Paper: Changes to Labour Force Survey Products (cat. no. 6297.0) which was released on 23 October 2003. This information paper includes a copy of the redesigned publication and is available free from the ABS web site (Themes - People, Labour). Sample Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are also available free from the ABS web site.


From the December issue of this publication, the ABS will use concurrent seasonal adjustment in the Labour Force Survey (LFS), replacing the forward factor adjustment process currently used to produce seasonally adjusted estimates. Concurrent seasonal adjustment uses original data up to and including the current month to produce seasonally adjusted and trend series, while the forward factor adjustment method only revises seasonal factors annually.

By increasing the frequency of seasonal reanalysis from annually to monthly, concurrent seasonal adjustment produces initial seasonally adjusted estimates that are usually closer on average to their final values, as any change in seasonality is picked up sooner. While revisions under the concurrent seasonal adjustment method are more frequent (monthly), the degree of revision is generally less than with the forward factor method of adjustment (where revisions are made annually).

Further information on these changes will be available in Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics (cat. no. 6292.0) to be released on 16 December 2003. This information paper will be available free from the ABS web site (Themes - People, Labour).


LFS estimates of persons employed, unemployed and not in the labour force are calculated in such a way as to add up to independent estimates of the civilian population aged 15 and over (population benchmarks). These population benchmarks are revised every five years following the Census of Population and Housing. From February 2004, LFS estimates will be compiled using revised population benchmarks based on results from the 2001 Census. LFS estimates for the period January 1999 to January 2004 will also be revised based on the updated population benchmarks. The revised estimates will be available with the release of the February 2004 issue of this publication on 11 March 2004.

The population benchmarks currently used by the LFS are classified by state/territory of usual residence, capital city/rest of state, age and sex. In addition to these population benchmarks, from February 2004 the LFS will use population benchmarks for labour force region by sex. There are currently 68 labour force regions across Australia. The introduction of regional benchmarks will improve the quality of estimates for labour force regions, with negligible impact on estimates at national, state and territory levels. LFS estimates for labour force regions (available each month in electronic products) will be revised back to January 1999.


In February 2004, the ABS will introduce a minor change to the definition of unemployed persons. The change relates to a small group of persons ('future starters') who had not actively looked for work because they were waiting to start a new job within four weeks from the end of the survey reference week, and would have started in the reference week if the job had been available then. These persons are currently classified as not in the labour force. From February 2004 they will be classified as unemployed, in line with International Labour Organisation guidelines.

Data to support this change has been available since the new LFS questionnaire was introduced in April 2001. However, the ABS announced at the time that, due to concerns that such a change could result in a break in some core labour force series, implementation of the change would be deferred until February 2004 (see Information Paper: Implementing the Redesigned Labour Force Survey Questionnaire (cat. no. 6295.0) which was released on 3 May 2001). This timing coincides with the five-yearly revision of population benchmarks.

LFS estimates will be revised back to April 2001 to reflect this change. Revised estimates will be available with the release of the February 2004 issue of this publication on 11 March 2004. Analysis has shown that the unemployment rate will increase as a result of this definitional change by an average of 0.1 - 0.2 percentage points. A small break will remain in the unemployed persons and unemployment rate series at April 2001.



The trend estimate of employed persons generally rose from a low of 7,634,000 in January 1993 to 9,129,300 in September 2000. The trend estimate then fell slightly to 9,112,900 in December 2000, before rising to 9,540,300 in March 2003. The trend estimate then fell for three months, before rising to stand at 9,565,800 in October 2003.

Graph - Principal labour force series trend estimates - employed persons


The trend estimate of unemployed persons fell rapidly from 920,600 in September 1993 to 728,100 in July 1995. The trend estimate then rose to 771,800 in February 1997, before falling to 590,900 in September 2000. After rising to 675,900 in October 2001, the trend estimate has generally fallen to stand at 581,800 in October 2003.

Graph - Principal labour force series trend estimates - unemployed persons


The trend unemployment rate fell rapidly from 10.7% in August 1993 to 8.1% in July 1995. The trend estimate then rose slowly, reaching 8.4% in February 1997, before falling to 6.1% in September 2000. After rising to 6.9% in September 2001, the trend estimate has generally fallen to stand at 5.7% in October 2003.

Graph - Principal labour force series trend estimates - unemployment rate