Number of employees (EMPP)

Latest release
Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period


This variable records the number of employees (in ranges) employed by owner managers (excluding the owner managers themselves).


Persons aged 15 years and over, who are owner managers of incorporated or unincorporated enterprises


1Nil employees
21-19 employees
320 or more employees
&Not stated
@Not applicable
VOverseas visitor

Number of categories:  6

Not applicable (@) category comprises:

  • Employees
  • Contributing family workers
  • Unemployed persons
  • Persons not in the labour force
  • Persons with Labour Force Status (LFSP) not stated
  • Persons with Status in Employment (SIEMP) not stated
  • Persons aged under 15 years      

See Understanding supplementary codes for more information.

Question(s) from the Census form

Does the person’s business employ people?

How this variable is created

This variable is created based on the response to the question of whether the respondent’s business employs people. In cases where more than one response is marked, the responses are accepted in the order they appear on the form and the extra responses are deleted.

History and changes

The question relating to number of employees was first asked in the 2006 Census and has been asked in each Census since then.

For the 2016 Census a change was made to the question to indicate that the owner should exclude themselves from the count of people they employ. Also, in 2016, the number of employees question was asked for the first time on the Interviewer Household Form. This form type is primarily used in discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

No changes have been made for 2021.

Data use considerations

The number of employees employed in a business is used to help understand:

  • Whether the business employs people who are not owners.
  • The nature of self-employment (whether working on own account, or as an employer).
  • The characteristics of small business owners.

Unlike most Census variables, the non-response rate for Number of employees (EMPP) is not affected by persons who did not return a Census form because this variable is only applicable to persons with a Status of Employment as owner/managers of incorporated and unincorporated enterprises. Persons who did not respond, and are imputed, have a Status of Employment of 'not stated' and fall into the 'not applicable' category for Number of employees. For more information, see Census Methodology

The non-response rate for Number of employees (EMPP) was 0.4% in 2021. This is a decrease from 1.2% in 2016.

Related variables and glossary terms

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