2901.0 - Census Dictionary, 2006 (Reissue)  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/10/2007  Reissue
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Contents >> Short Definitions and Classifications - 2006 >> Labour Force Status (LFS06P) - Characteristics 2006

Labour Force Status

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Quality Statement


This is a derived variable applicable to all people aged 15 years and over. It classifies people as employed working full-time, part-time or away from work, unemployed looking for full-time work, looking for part-time work, or not in the labour force. More Detailed Description


Applicable to: Persons aged 15 years and over

1. Employed, worked full-time
2. Employed, worked part-time
3. Employed, away from work
4. Unemployed, looking for full-time work
5. Unemployed, looking for part-time work
6. Not in the labour force
& Not stated
@ Not applicable
V Overseas visitor

Total number of categories: 9

More Detailed Description
Quality Statement - Labour Force Status (LFS06P)

There are many aspects which can affect the quality of Census data; the following information should be considered when viewing data on Labour Force Status (IFS06P).

For the 2006 Census, Labour Force Status (LFS06P) provides data on whether a person was employed (full or part-time), unemployed (looking for full or part-time work) or not in the labour force in the week prior to Census Night. Information on status in employment (i.e. whether a person is an employee, employer, own account worker or contributing family worker), which was included in LFSP for 2001 is now available as a separate variable (EMTP) for 2006. These changes in the collection of labour force status data since 2001, were designed to produce data which is more closely aligned with standard labour force concepts collected in the ABS's Labour Force Survey (LFS).

In the 2006 Census, LFS06P data was derived from responses to a number of questions on the form. Data is captured automatically from four check box responses (Questions 34, 35, 46, and 47 on the household form) and from the written numeric response from Question 44 (hours worked), and the risk of processing error is low. Occupation information from Questions 38 and 39 may sometimes be used. Sample checks of the data are undertaken to ensure an acceptable level of quality.

The non-response rate for 2006 was 6.5%. Part of this non-response is attributable to the 4.2% of persons in dwellings which were occupied on Census Night but did not return a Census form. Persons are imputed into these dwellings together with some demographic characteristics. However the values for LFSP remain not stated.

Comparisons with the Labour Force Survey

While the Census variable LFS06P attempts to measure the same concept as 'labour force status' measured in the Labour Force Survey or LFS (which provides Australia's official estimates of employment and unemployment), there are a number of differences to consider when comparing data from these two sources.

The Census only includes persons present in Australia on Census Night and counts are not adjusted for underenumeration. The Census will then produce labour force estimates which are lower than for the LFS where they are weighted to independent population benchmarks based on the estimated resident population. Note that Census estimates are also affected by non-response (persons imputed into dwellings that do not return a Census form, as well as persons who are included on a completed form but do not respond to relevant labour force questions). LFS estimates only include fully responding questionnaires which are adjusted to account for any non-response. (In the table below, persons for whom LFS06P was not stated have been removed from the table to facilitate comparison.

Differences in employment counts from the two data sources in part reflect the differences in their collection methods, i.e. collecting the information via a self-completed paper or e-form Census questionnaire versus a more detailed personal or telephone interview. In addition, the Census determines LFS06P on the basis of four questions, while the LFS uses up to 30 questions to determine labour force status. Many of the additional LFS questions concern the circumstances where people are defined as 'employed' even though they were not at work in the reference week.

The table below provides a comparison of both the counts and the proportion in each labour force status category for the two data sources. While the differences discussed above need to be considered, in terms of proportions the data is quite similar. Note that while the total proportion of persons who were employed was very similar for the census and the LFS, within this category of persons the Labour Force Survey does not have a category of "employed , away from work". Persons away from work are categorised as either employed full time or part time based on usual hours worked. The Census only uses actual hours worked (Q44) to determine whether someone is employed full-time or part-time and a response to Q34 to determine whether they were employed, but away from work.

Comparison of 2006 Census and Labour Force August 2006, Labour Force Status ('000)
Census 2006
LFS Aug 2006
Labour force status
Employed full-time
Employed part-time
Employed away
Employed total
Unemployed looking for full-time work
Unemployed looking for part-time work
Unemployed total
Labour Force
Not in the Labour Force

(a) In the LFS people employed but away from work are categorised as either employed full-time or part-time based on usual hours worked.
(b) The number of not stated to LFS06P in the Census (1,038,975) have been removed to enable better comparison with the LFS.

The Labour Force Survey provides Australia's official estimates of employment and unemployment. These estimates are subject to sample error which may affect their use for small areas or population groups. Census data can be provided for small areas and population groups along with a range of other demographic and social characteristics. However users need to be mindful of the differences between Census data and the official estimates discussed above.

The ABS aims to produce high quality data from the Census. To achieve this, extensive effort is put into Census form design, collection procedures, and processing procedures.

There are four principal sources of error in Census data: respondent error, processing error, partial response and undercount. Quality management of the Census program aims to reduce error as much as possible, and to provide a measure of the remaining error to data users, to allow them to use the data in an informed way.

When completing their Census form, some people do not answer all the questions which apply to them. In these instances, a 'not stated' code is allocated during processing, with the exception of non-response to age, sex, marital status and place of usual residence. These variables are needed for population estimates, so they are imputed using other information on the Census form, as well as information from the previous Census.

The processing of information from Census forms is now mostly automated, using scanning, Intelligent Character Recognition and other automatic processes. Quality assurance procedures are used during Census processing to ensure processing errors are kept at an acceptable level. Sample checking is undertaken during coding operations, and corrections are made where necessary.

The Census form may be completed by one household member on behalf of others. Incorrect answers can be introduced to the Census form if the respondent does not understand the question or does not know the correct information about other household members. Many of these errors remain in the final data.

More detailed information on data quality is available in the 2006 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0), in the section titled Managing Census Quality.

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