Job Vacancies, Australia methodology

Latest release
Reference period
May 2024

How the data is collected

Reference period

The JVS reference date is the third Friday of the middle month of the quarter, i.e. February, May, August and November. Job vacancies data relate to the number of vacancies which exist on the actual survey reference date only, and not for a monthly or quarterly period.

Scope and coverage

The survey covers all employing organisations in Australia (public and private sectors), except:

  • enterprises primarily engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing;
  • private households employing staff; and
  • foreign embassies, consulates, etc.

All job vacancies of organisations covered in the survey are in scope, except those:

  • in the Australian permanent defence forces; and
  • located outside Australia.

From the November 2023 quarter release, the JVS no longer includes micro-employers (i.e. businesses with less than five employees) in the direct collect component of the survey every quarter. Instead, the contribution of these units is accounted for through a model-based approach. Therefore, micro-employers are treated as being out of coverage but remain in scope of the JVS. It is planned that a full sample, which includes the micro-employers, will be run periodically and, for those quarters, these businesses will be both in coverage and scope of the survey.

Collection method

Details of the total number of job vacancies available for immediate filling on the survey reference date are obtained on a quarterly basis from selected businesses. Data are collected via online electronic collection, and/or telephone interviews.

Follow-up procedures are in place to obtain information from respondents who do not lodge a completed form by the due date. The target minimum response is 90%.

Sample design

The sample is selected from the ABS Business Register (ABSBR) which is a list of businesses and organisations operating in Australia primarily based on registrations to the Australian Taxation Office's (ATO) Pay-As-You-Go Withholding (PAYGW) scheme. The population is updated quarterly to take account of new businesses, businesses that have ceased employing, changes in industry and employment levels, and other general business changes.

A probability sample of statistical units (employing businesses) is drawn from the ABSBR. The statistical unit for the survey comprises all the activities of an employer in a particular state or territory based on the Australian Business Number (ABN) unit or Type of Activity Unit (TAU). Each statistical unit is classified to an industry which reflects the predominant activity of the business. Variables used to stratify the survey frame are:

  • public/private sector;
  • industry;
  • state/territory; and
  • employment size – the ranges used vary between states/territories and industries.

Statistical units with benchmark employment greater than a set cut off (this cut off will vary for different states/territories) are completely enumerated. Strata with a very small number of statistical units may also be completely enumerated, but such strata may become sampled strata if the number of units increases sufficiently. Within each stratum, statistical units are selected with equal probability.

Sample selection is constrained by ensuring that there is minimum overlap with other labour-related business surveys.

For details on the ABS Business Register and ABS economic units model, see the Business surveys chapter in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods.

Sample size

Approximately 4,000 statistical units are selected in the sample to yield a live sample of approximately 3,730 units. The sample is allocated optimally across the strata using a technique designed to minimise the variance of job vacancies estimates at both the national and state/territory level.

Sample rotation

The sample is updated each quarter to reflect changes in the ABS Business Register. Sample rotation is implemented for the majority of strata, but is not implemented where the population of a stratum is so small that units rotating out of the sample would be rotated back in after only a short interval. Approximately 8% of the sample for the non-completely enumerated strata is replaced each quarter.

Use of Australian Business Register (ABR) data in this publication

The results of these studies are based, in part, on ABR data supplied by the Registrar to the ABS under A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 which requires that such data is only used for the purpose of carrying out functions of the ABS. Any discussion of data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the data for statistical purposes and is not related to the ability of the data to support the ABR’s core operational requirements. 

Legislative requirements to ensure privacy and secrecy of this data have been followed. In accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, results have been confidentialised to ensure that they are not likely to enable identification of a particular person or organisation.

How the data is processed


Number raised estimation is used in all strata.

For non-responding units in the sampled strata, the Live Respondent Mean method of imputation is used.

For non-responding units in the completely enumerated (CE) strata, an imputed growth rate is applied to the previous quarter's reported value for that unit. Growth rates are estimated for each industry division, based on data provided by CE units in the current and previous quarter. Where data for non-responding CE units have not been reported in the previous quarter, ratio imputation is used. The ratio of job vacancies to benchmark employment is calculated at industry division level for responding units from the current quarter. This ratio is then applied to the benchmark employment for the non-responding unit to arrive at the imputed value for job vacancies.

Survey estimates include an adjustment called Business Provisions to allow for births and resurrections of businesses that have occurred up to the end of the survey reference period but which are not reflected on the survey frame.

The estimates are also adjusted to account for businesses with less than five employees (micro-employers). From the November quarter 2023 release, these businesses are no longer collected directly through a survey instrument. Instead, a model-based approach is used to account for their contribution. Modelled data produced for the most recent quarters before the change was implemented were all within two standard errors of the published estimates. 

This approach uses an ordinary least squares regression model to produce estimates of job vacancies for micro-employers. The model uses historical estimates of the proportion of job vacancies from micro-employers with the following predictors:

  • State/industry;
  • Calendar quarter;
  • Total job vacancies among surveyed businesses with five or more employees;
  • Proportion of units on the JVS frame with less than five employees.

The ABS plans to collect information from a full sample of micro-employers every eighth quarter to review the model. This will allow the ABS to update the coefficients of the model and ensure long term accuracy.

With the new approach for estimating the number of vacancies for micro-employers, the contribution to the proportion of businesses reporting vacancies for these employers will also be modelled from November 2023.

More detail is available on the micro employer modelling in Methodological News, December Quarter 2023 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (  

For further information on estimation methods used in ABS business surveys, refer to the Business surveys chapter in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods.

Seasonal adjustment and trend estimation

Seasonal adjustment is a means of removing the estimated effects of normal seasonal variation from the series so that the effects of other influences can be more clearly recognised. Seasonal adjustment does not aim to remove the irregular or non-seasonal influences which may be present in any particular series. Influences that are volatile or unsystematic can still make it difficult to interpret the movement of the series even after adjustment for seasonal variation. This means that quarter-to-quarter movements of seasonally adjusted estimates may not be reliable indicators of trend behaviour.

Seasonally adjusted estimates can be smoothed to reduce the impact of irregular or non-seasonal influences. Smoothed seasonally adjusted series are called trend estimates. The ABS considers that trend estimates provide a more reliable guide to the underlying direction of the data, and are more suitable than either the seasonally adjusted or original estimates for most business decisions and policy advice.

Due to the disruption to the labour market, trend estimates were suspended during the COVID-19 period. During this period, the ABS also used forward seasonal factors to produce seasonally adjusted estimates for some job vacancies series. Forward factors adjustments are generally better suited to managing large movements at the end point of a series and to ensure that large movements do not have a disproportionate influence on the seasonal factors. 

From May 2023, the ABS reinstated the trend estimates and reverted to using the concurrent seasonal adjustment method. Due to the larger than usual point-to-point changes in May 2020 to August 2022, the ABS recommends caution when using trend estimates during this period. 

Reliability of estimates

Estimates are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. For information on the reliability of estimates see the Technical Note.


Estimates have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals. Estimates of percentage change have been calculated using unrounded estimates, and may be different from, but are more accurate than, movements obtained from calculating percentage change using the rounded estimates presented in this release.

Suspension of job vacancies survey between May 2008 and November 2009

The JVS was suspended following the May 2008 survey and was reinstated for the November 2009 survey. As a result, there is a gap in all series: original, seasonally adjusted and trend, for five periods between August 2008 and August 2009 inclusive. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) cannot produce reliable estimates by collecting this missing data retrospectively, and has not been able to fill the gap using other data sources.

Modelled data, at the Australia by sector level only, have been used in the calculation of trend and seasonally adjusted estimates for the three cycles either side of the gap period. The modelled data, which is for the gap period from August 2008 to August 2009 inclusive, are not part of the JVS series and are not available for release from this publication.

For further information, see Information Paper: Reinstatement of Job Vacancies Survey.

How the data is released

Survey output

Data are available by:

  • State and Territory;
  • Sector (Public/Private); and
  • Industry.

Data on job vacancies by sector are available on an original, seasonally adjusted and trend basis. Data for industries and for states and territories are only available on an original basis.

History of changes

History of changes


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Quality declaration - summary

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Technical note - sampling error

Reliability of estimates

As the estimates in this release are based on information relating to a sample of employers rather than a full enumeration, they are subject to sampling variability. That is, they may differ from the estimates that would have been produced if the information had been obtained from all employers. This difference, called sampling error, should not be confused with inaccuracy that may occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents or in processing by the ABS. Such inaccuracy is referred to as non-sampling error and may occur in any enumeration whether it be a full count or sample. Efforts have been made to reduce non-sampling error by careful design of questionnaires, detailed checking of returns and quality control of processing.

The sampling error associated with any estimate can be estimated from the sample results. One measure of sampling error is given by the standard error which indicates the degree to which an estimate may vary from the value which would have been obtained from a full enumeration (the ‘true value’). There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate differs from the true value by less than one standard error, and about 19 chances in 20 that the difference will be less than two standard errors.

An example of the use of a standard error on levels is as follows. If the estimated number of job vacancies was 25,000 with a standard error of 2,500, then there would be about two chances in three that a full enumeration would have given an estimate in the range 22,500 to 27,500 and about 19 chances in 20 that it would be in the range 20,000 to 30,000.

Another measure of the sampling error (for level estimates only) is the relative standard error, which is obtained by expressing the standard error as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. Level estimates with a relative standard error between 25% and 50%, denoted by an asterisk in this release, are subject to sampling variability generally considered to be too high for most practical purposes and should be used with caution. Level estimates with a relative standard error of 50% or more, denoted by a double asterisk, are considered to be too unreliable for general use.

The first table below shows the standard errors for job vacancies level estimates for States and territories by Sector, based on original data for the current quarter. The second table shows the standard errors for level estimates by industry.

Standard errors, job vacancies, sector, states and territories, May 2024 ('000)
New South Wales4.70.84.6
South Australia1.60.31.7
Western Australia2.30.52.3
Northern Territory0.40.20.5
Australian Capital Territory0.60.20.6
Standard errors, job vacancies, industry ('000)
Electricity, gas, water and waste services0.
Wholesale trade2.
Retail trade3.
Accommodation and food services5.
Transport, postal and warehousing1.
Information media and telecommunications0.
Financial and insurance services1.
Rental, hiring and real estate services0.
Professional, scientific and technical services4.
Administrative and support services2.
Public administration and safety1.
Education and training1.
Health care and social assistance4.
Arts and recreation services0.
Other services2.
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