Industry of employment (INDP)

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Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
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This variable describes the industry of the main job held by the employed person in the week prior to Census night.


Employed people aged 15 years and over


Industry of employment is coded to the Australian and New Zealand Standards Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (Revision 2.0). The categories are listed in groups below. The full list is available from the Data downloads section on this page. 

A - Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

B - Mining

C - Manufacturing

D - Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services

E - Construction

F - Wholesale Trade

G - Retail Trade

H - Accommodation and Food Services

I - Transport, Postal and Warehousing

J - Information Media and Telecommunications

K - Financial and Insurance Services

L - Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services

M - Professional, Scientific and Technical Services

N - Administrative and Support Services

O - Public Administration and Safety

P - Education and Training

Q - Health Care and Social Assistance

R - Arts and Recreation Services

S - Other Services

T - Inadequately described

 Supplementary Codes

Number of categories: 

  • One digit level: 20
  • Two digit level: 106
  • Three digit level: 293
  • Four digit level: 721

Not applicable (@@@@) category comprises:

  • Unemployed persons, looking for either full-time or part-time work
  • Persons not in the labour force
  • Persons with labour Force status (LFSP) not stated
  • Persons aged under 15 years

See Understanding supplementary codes for more information.

Question(s) from the Census form

For the main job held last week, what was the employer’s business name?

What best describes the industry or business of the employer at the location where the person works?

Targeted supplementary questions for industry

What are the main goods produced or main services provided by the employer’s business?

For the main job held last week, what was the person’s workplace address?

How this variable is created

A person's industry of employment is classified based on responses to a range of questions. These questions include asking for a description of the:

  • business name
  • industry or business
  • main goods produced
  • main services provided.

Industry of Employment is coded to the ANZSIC, 2006 (Revision 2.0).

To code the information, industry of employment is first obtained by matching business name and address responses to ABS lists of business names for which main industry activity is already known. These responses are automatically coded.

The remaining responses are coded using write-in responses about type of industry and about main goods or services produced. If a response is captured to a Targeted Supplementary Question (TSQ) in the online form this is used, otherwise the responses are examined by ABS staff and independently assessed for an ANZSIC code. In the absence of adequate industry, business goods or services information, occupation and task responses may be used as supplementary information to help decide which industry to code to. Responses with insufficient information to assign an ANZSIC code are coded to ‘Inadequately described.’

'Not further defined' categories are used when there is insufficient information to code the response to a detailed category in the classification. A response of 'education' for example is not enough to code to a detailed industry such as Preschool or University and would be coded to the 'Education and Training, not further defined' category. 

History and changes

The name of employer and address of workplace has been collected since the 1954 Census.          

The questions relating to industry of employment or similar were first asked in the 1911 Census and have been asked in all Censuses since then.

In 2016, the question on industry or business changed from a mark box format response to a write-in format. Targeted supplementary questions (TSQs) were also introduced in the online form to clarify responses. Responses to TSQs were taken as a priority over the data in other fields.

In 2021, several minor wording and response order changes were made to the TSQs. The TSQ for repairs and maintenance service was removed for 2021. Responses to TSQs were not taken as a priority over the data in other fields as was done in 2016.

Data use considerations

The occupation or task of an individual, in general, should not be used to determine the industry in which the person works because industry coding based on occupation can give a very different result to that based on the employer's activity. For example, a person works for a coal mining company as a driver of the company's coal trucks. The individual's occupation is 'truck driver'. However, the industry of the individual's employer is 'coal mining' and not 'transport'. This example illustrates how using an individual's occupation as a proxy for industry can lead incorrect assumptions about what industry the person is actually in.

Unlike most Census variables, the non-response rate for Industry of employment (INDP) is not affected by persons who did not return a Census form because this variable is only applicable to persons with a labour force status of 'employed'. Persons who do not respond or have a labour force status of 'not stated' are not applicable to Industry of Employment. 

The non-response rate for Industry of employment (INDP) was 1.3% in 2021. This is an increase from 1.2% in 2016.


A number of regions across the country were in various stages of lockdown on Census day, and the week preceding it, resulting in a greater number of people being temporarily stood down on Census day. Guidance on how to correctly respond was provided at the time on the Census website, as follows: 

'If you were employed in the four weeks prior to the current lockdown period, but haven't been able to work in the last week due to COVID-19 restrictions or requirement to self-isolate, please answer all questions reflecting your usual occupation. This includes your role (such as occupation and tasks performed) and  information about your employer (such as industry and number of employees).'

Comparing Census with ABS Labour Force Survey

The Census and Labour Force Survey both collect information about the labour market activity of people aged 15 years and over. While both collections seek to measure the concepts related to employment, unemployment and being outside of the labour force, there are a number of differences between them that should be considered in the use of the data. A summary of the differences between these collections is available in Comparing the 2021 Census and the Labour Force Survey

Related variables and glossary terms

Data downloads

Data files
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