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Labour force status (LFSP)

Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period
2021

Definition

This variable records a person’s labour force status for the week prior to Census night.

Scope

Persons aged 15 years and over

Categories

CodeCategory

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

Number of categories:  9

Not applicable (@) category comprises:

  • Persons aged under 15 years

'Employed, away from work' also includes persons who stated they worked but who did not state the number of hours worked.

Question(s) from the Census form

Last week, did the person have a job of any kind?

    Last week, did the person have a job of any kind?
    Last week, did Person 1 have a job of any kind?

    A ‘job’ means any type of work including casual, temporary, part-time or full-time work, if it was for one hour or more.

    More information

    Yes, worked for payment or profit

    Yes, but absent on holidays, on paid leave, on strike, or temporarily stood down

    Yes, unpaid work in a family business

    Yes, other unpaid work

    No, did not have a job

      More information

      Additional information relating to the question on: Last week, did the person have a job of any kind?

      More information

      Last week, did Person 1 have a job of any kind?

      A ‘job’ means any type of work including casual, temporary, part-time or full-time work, if it was for one hour or more.

      More information

      Last week refers to the week before Census night – Tuesday 10 August 2021.

      People who did some work for which they will receive some payment (including casual, temporary or part-time work) and it was for one hour or more in the last week select the 'Yes, worked for payment or profit' response.

      People not working due to a COVID lockdown...
      • who worked at all in the four weeks before the current lockdown, select 'Yes, but absent on holidays, on paid leave, on strike, or temporarily stood down'.
      • who did not work in the four weeks before the current lockdown, select 'No, did not have a job'.

      People on paid leave, for example holiday leave, maternity leave or sick leave, should select 'Yes, but absent on holidays, on paid leave, on strike, or temporarily stood down'.

      People who have been on unpaid leave...
      • for less than four weeks and are not being paid, select ‘Yes, but absent on holidays, on paid leave, on strike, or temporarily stood down'.
      • for four weeks or more and are not being paid, select 'No, did not have a job'.

      People who are on workers' compensation and...
      • are planning to return to work, select ‘Yes, but absent on holidays, on paid leave, on strike, or temporarily stood down'.
      • won't be returning to work, select 'No, did not have a job'.

      People working for the dole are considered not to be in paid work and should select 'No, did not have a job'.

      People who are casual or freelance workers and...
      • worked in the week before Census night, select 'Yes, worked for payment or profit'.
      • did not work last week but worked at some stage in the four weeks before Census night, select ‘Yes, but absent on holidays, on paid leave, on strike, or temporarily stood down'.
      • did not work in the four weeks before Census night, select 'No, did not have a job'.

      People who work from home and...
      • get paid, select the appropriate 'Yes' response.
      • do not get paid, select 'No, did not have a job'.

      Retired people should select 'No, did not have a job'. This also applies to people who have never had a job.

      In the main job held last week, was the person: Working for an employer; Working in own business?

      This question is only applicable for people aged 15 years and over who responded 'Yes, worked for payment or profit' or 'Yes, but absent on holidays, on paid leave, on strike, or temporarily stood down' to the previous question, 'Last week, did the person have a job of any kind?'

        In the main job held last week, was the person: Working for an employer; Working in own business?
        In the main job held last week, was Person 1:

        If the person had more than one job last week, then ‘main job’ refers to the job in which the person usually works the most hours.

        For all persons conducting their own business, including those with their own incorporated (e.g. Pty Ltd) company, as well as sole traders, partnerships and contractors, select ‘Working in own business’.

        Working for an employer

        Working in own business

        Last week, how many hours did the person work in all jobs?

          Last week, how many hours did the person work in all jobs?
          Last week, how many hours did Person 1 work in all jobs?

          Add any overtime or extra time worked and subtract any time off.

          More information

          Hours worked

            More information

            Additional information relating to the question on: Last week, how many hours did the person work in all jobs?

            More information

            Last week, how many hours did Person 1 work in all jobs?

            Add any overtime or extra time worked and subtract any time off.

            More information

            Include all hours the person worked for all jobs, even if those hours are not the hours they usually work.

            Include any overtime and hours spent working at home.

            Do not include time off work, for example, sick leave or annual leave.

            If the person did not work any hours, please enter '0'.

            Did the person actively look for work at any time in the last four weeks?

              Did the person actively look for work at any time in the last four weeks?
              Did Person 1 actively look for work at any time in the last four weeks?

              Full-time work means 35 hours or more per week.

              Examples of actively looking for work include:
              • Writing, telephoning or applying to an employer for work
              • Having a job interview
              • Checking or registering with an employment agency
              • Taking steps to purchase or start a business
              • Advertising or tendering for work
              • Contacting friends or relatives in order to obtain work
              • Answering an advertisement for a job

              More information

              No, did not look for work

              Yes, looked for full-time work

              Yes, looked for part-time work

                More information

                Additional information relating to the question on: Did the person actively look for work at any time in the last four weeks?

                More information

                Did Person 1 actively look for work at any time in the last four weeks?

                Full-time work means 35 hours or more per week.

                • Examples of actively looking for work include:
                • Writing, telephoning or applying to an employer for work
                • Having a job interview
                • Checking or registering with an employment agency
                • Taking steps to purchase or start a business
                • Advertising or tendering for work
                • Contacting friends or relatives in order to obtain work
                • Answering an advertisement for a job

                More information

                All people who are not looking for work, including retired people, should select 'No, did not look for work'.

                Select 'No, did not look for work' if the person only looked in newspapers, on the internet or checked notice boards, and did not take any of the active steps listed in the question.

                If the person had found a job, could the person have started work last week?

                This question is only applicable to people aged 15 years and over who responded 'Yes, looked for full-time work' or 'Yes, looked for part-time work' to the previous question, 'Did the person actively look for work at any time in the last four weeks?'

                  If the person had found a job, could the person have started work last week?
                  If Person 1 had found a job, could they have started work last week?

                  Yes, could have started work last week

                  No, already had a job to go to

                  No, temporarily ill or injured

                  No, other reason

                  How this variable is created

                  Labour force status (LFSP) is derived using responses to questions on:

                  • full/part-time job
                  • job last week
                  • hours worked
                  • looking for work and
                  • availability to start work

                  The derivation method takes into account answers to these questions to derive the most appropriate Labour force status. Occupation information may sometimes be used.

                  History and changes

                  Questions relating to labour force status were first asked in the 1911 Census. Response categories were revised in 2006 to align more closely with ABS labour force concepts.

                  Minor changes were made in 2016 to two of the five questions that contribute to the Labour force status variable. Minor changes were also made to the instructions on the online Census form.

                  For 2021, an instruction was added to the online form to provide guidance to people in COVID affected areas on Census day. Additional instructions were also added to the Census website – see Data use considerations below for more details.

                  Data use considerations

                  Lockdown

                  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 to the employment question was provided at the time on the Census website, as follows: 

                  'If you were employed in the 4 weeks prior to the current lockdown period, but haven't been able to work in the last week due to lockdown or requirement to self-isolate, please select 'Yes, but absent on holidays, on paid leave, on strike or temporarily stood down'.

                  Those who were not working 4 weeks prior to the lockdown were asked to select 'No, did not have a job'.

                  Community Development Program

                  People participating only in the Community Development Program are not considered to be employed for the Census. They are considered unemployed or not in the labour force, depending on their job search activities and availability. For further information see Community Development Program participation (CDPP).

                  Related variables and glossary terms