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Place of work (POWP)

Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period
2021

Definition

This variable records the geographic area in which a person worked in the week before Census night. The address of the person’s workplace is coded to a Destination zone (DZN). Destination zones are co-designed with state and territory transport authorities for the analysis of Place of work (POWP) data, commuting patterns and the development of transport policy.

Scope

Employed persons aged 15 years and over who listed their employment status as ‘Employed’

Categories

Place of work data is available for the following geographies:

  • State/Territory
  • Greater capital city statistical area
  • Statistical area 4
  • Statistical area 3
  • Statistical area 2
  • Local government areas
  • Destination zones

A list of categories is available from the Australian statistical geography standard (ASGS): Volume 3 – Non ABS structures, June 2020, although the following supplementary codes are always included:

  • Not applicable
  • Overseas visitor

Number of categories: Available on request

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

Question(s) from the Census form

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

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

    For self-employed persons, provide the name of the Person's business.

    For teachers, provide the name of the school.

    Business name

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

      For the main job held last week, what was the person’s workplace address?
      For the main job held last week, what was Person 1's workplace address?

      For people who work from home for an employer, write the employer's workplace address.

      For people with no fixed place of work:
      • if the person usually travels to a depot to start work, provide the depot address
      • otherwise enter ‘None’ in the ‘Suburb/Locality’ box.

      This information is used to calculate daytime populations and to plan transport activities.

      More information

      Street number Street name (examples: Graham Avenue, George Street)

      Suburb/Locality State/Territory Postcode

      Property/Building name (if any)

        More information

        Additional information relating to the question on: For the main job held last week, what was Person 1's workplace address?

        More information

        For the main job held last week, what was Person 1's workplace address?

        For people who work from home for an employer, write the employer's workplace address.

        For people with no fixed place of work:
        • if the person usually travels to a depot to start work, provide the depot address
        • otherwise enter ‘None’ in the ‘Suburb/Locality’ box.

        This information is used to calculate daytime populations and to plan transport activities.

        More information

        If the complete address is not known, please provide as much of the address as possible.

        Include the name of the building or property where the person works, if known.

        For Norfolk Island and other external territories, such as Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay, please select 'Other external territory' in the State/Territory box.

        For people currently working from home due to lockdown or other COVID-related reasons, write the employer's workplace address.

        How this variable is created

        This variable is determined from written responses to the 'Business name' and 'Workplace address' questions on the Census form.

        Most responses for POWP are coded automatically. The remaining responses go through a bulk coding process where groupings of the same business or property are assigned a POWP code. The responses that cannot be coded using either method are coded manually using a workplace index.

        Responses are coded to units of geography known as DZN. DZNs are aggregates of whole Mesh blocks (though data is not coded to the Mesh block level), and aggregate to Statistical area level 2. Due to the hierarchical nature of the ASGS, place of work data is also available in the following geographies:

        • Statistical area level 3
        • Statistical area level 4
        • State/Territory and Greater capital city statistical area levels

        History and changes

        A question on place of work was first asked in 1971 with similar questions having been asked in every Census since then. The POWP variable was used for the first time in the 2006 Census and replaced the Journey to work variable which was used prior to that.

        Data is available for DZN in TableBuilder Pro. Prior to 2011, DZN data was only available via customised request. DZN boundaries were updated for 2016 and the new Imputation flag for place of work (IFPOWP) variable was introduced.

        For 2021 a new instruction has been added to the online form to help people who are in COVID affected areas answer the place of work question. Additional instructions were also added to the Census website – see Data use considerations 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 working from their homes. This may impact their responses for their place of work. Guidance on how to correctly respond was provided at the time on the Census website, as follows:

        • For people who usually work from home, and did not have any other workplace, write the home address
        • For people who are working from home temporarily due to COVID-19, write the workplace address they would normally be at
        Comparability of Destination zones over time 

        DZN are not comparable across Censuses due to changes to both the boundary and code structure.

        POWP is a hierarchical classification, ranging from the broadest geographic level (Australia), to the finest level (DZN). The categories in this variable have changed to reflect the updated ASGS used for the 2021 Census. Data is also available for Local Government Areas to assist with time series comparison.

        Journey to work information

        Data for POWP, Place of usual residence (PURP) and Method of travel to work (MTWP) can be cross-classified to:

        • examine movements of people to and from work
        • analyse transport patterns
        • assist in the planning for transport systems
        • develop and release residential and commercial land.

        Journey to work data is used by:

        • transport authorities
        • associated bodies
        • organisations
        • other interested people.

        It is important to note that the different variables for cross-classification represent different timeframes and can produce outliers in the data due to a variety of reasons. Variables are listed below: 

        • POWP refers to a person’s workplace address last week
        • PURP refers to where a person usually lives (which may or may not be where they were counted on Census night)
        • MTWP refers to how the person travelled to work on the day of the Census
        Examples of how cross-classification can affect the data
         Example 1Example 2

        Scenario

        A person spent the previous night in Brisbane with a friend and walked to work in Brisbane City. She then caught a train to her parent's place on the Gold Coast (which she also regarded as her usual place of residence) that evening where she was enumerated

        A person mainly worked in Alice Springs in the week prior to the Census. However, the person moved to Sydney in the intervening week and took a ferry to their new place of employment

        Area of enumeration

        Gold Coast

        Manly

        Place of usual residence

        Gold Coast

        Manly

        Place of work

        Brisbane City

        Alice Springs

        Method of transport to work

        Walked Only

        Ferry

        Related variables and glossary terms