Latest release

Labour Force, Australia, Detailed methodology

Reference period
February 2020

Explanatory notes

Data from the monthly Labour Force Survey are released in two stages. The Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001) and Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003) are part of the second release, and include detailed data not contained in the Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) product set, which is released one week earlier.

The Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001) is released monthly. Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003) includes data only collected in February, May, August and November (including industry and occupation).

Since these products are based on the same data as the Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) publication, the Labour Force, Australia - Explanatory Notes (cat. no. 6202.0) are relevant to both releases.

Standard errors

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) are based on information collected from people in a sample of dwellings, rather than the entire population. Hence the estimates produced may differ from those that would have been produced if the entire population had been included in the survey. The most common measure of the likely difference (or 'sampling error') is the standard error (SE).

The ABS considers that estimates with a relative standard error of 25% or more may be subject to sampling variability too high for most practical purposes.

To indicate those cells in spreadsheets with a relative standard error of 25% or more, annotations have been applied prior to dissemination.

In addition, the tables below have been supplied to show estimates at which the relative standard error is 25%. Estimates of the size indicated in the tables, or smaller, are considered to be subject to sampling variability too high for most practical purposes.

Due to the January 2011 flooding in Queensland the relative standard errors for January 2011 will be higher than normal in some regions, therefore for Queensland the estimates at which the relative standard error is 25% will be higher than they appear in the tables below. However from February, the data returns to normal.

The new labour force sample was phased-in over four months from May to August 2013. During phase in of the new sample, standard errors associated with key labour force data were expected to increase by approximately 10% at a national level, however increased standard errors and variability in the estimates may be more evident in detailed regional data during this time.

Additional information on how standard errors for LFS estimates are produced is available in Labour Force Survey Standard Errors, Data Cube (cat. no. 6298.0.55.001).

Standard error tables

StateNSWVicQldSAWATasNTACTAust
Employed         
Feb-78 — Sep-824.54.53.52.52.51.51.82.04.5
Oct-82 — Aug-874.04.03.01.82.01.01.81.33.5
Sep-87 — Feb-894.54.53.02.02.51.31.81.54.0
Mar-89 — Aug-924.54.53.02.12.31.32.01.43.5
Sep-92 — Aug-975.34.63.52.42.91.31.31.04.0
Sep-97 — Sep-985.94.54.12.42.81.11.01.14.4
Oct-98 — Feb-035.93.13.72.52.21.11.30.95.5
Mar-03 — Oct-076.33.04.42.32.51.31.51.16.6
Nov-076.23.24.32.32.51.31.41.16.4
Dec-076.13.44.32.32.61.31.31.16.2
Jan-086.03.64.22.32.61.31.31.26.0
Feb-085.93.84.22.42.71.31.21.25.9
Mar-085.94.14.22.43.01.21.11.25.7
Apr-085.84.44.42.53.11.31.01.35.6
May-085.74.74.32.53.11.31.01.35.4
Jun-085.54.94.32.53.31.31.01.35.3
Jul-08 — Aug-096.96.15.33.14.01.51.21.67.4
Sep-096.55.85.02.93.81.51.11.57.0
Oct-096.15.54.72.83.61.41.01.46.5
Nov-095.85.24.52.63.41.31.01.46.2
Dec-09 — Jun-135.54.94.32.53.31.31.01.35.8
Jul-13 — Jan-147.73.85.52.73.81.40.31.77.8
Feb-14 onwards7.93.95.62.73.81.40.31.77.9
Unemployed         
Feb-78 — Sep-824.54.53.52.52.51.51.82.04.5
Oct-82 — Aug-874.04.03.01.82.01.01.81.33.5
Sep-87 — Feb-894.54.53.02.02.51.31.81.54.0
Mar-89 — Aug-924.54.53.02.12.31.32.01.43.5
Sep-92 — Aug-975.34.63.52.42.91.31.31.04.0
Sep-97 — Sep-985.94.54.12.42.81.11.01.14.4
Oct-98 — Feb-035.75.74.52.63.31.33.21.44.9
Mar-03 — Oct-076.05.44.92.93.61.62.21.65.2
Nov-076.15.45.02.93.71.62.11.75.2
Dec-076.25.55.02.93.81.71.91.75.2
Jan-086.35.65.03.04.01.71.81.85.2
Feb-086.45.75.13.04.11.71.71.85.1
Mar-086.75.75.23.14.51.81.61.95.1
Apr-086.85.95.53.24.61.91.51.95.2
May-086.96.05.53.34.81.91.42.05.1
Jun-087.16.15.63.35.01.91.42.15.1
Jul-08 — Aug-099.38.07.44.46.62.51.82.87.3
Sep-098.77.56.84.16.12.41.62.56.8
Oct-098.17.06.43.85.72.21.52.46.4
Nov-097.56.56.03.55.32.11.52.26.0
Dec-09 — Jun-137.16.15.63.35.01.91.42.15.7
Jul-13 — Jan-147.36.68.43.75.81.71.32.27.1
Feb-14 onwards7.46.78.63.85.91.81.32.37.3
NILF         
Feb-78 — Sep-824.54.53.52.52.51.51.82.04.5
Oct-82 — Aug-874.04.03.01.82.01.01.81.33.5
Sep-87 — Feb-894.54.53.02.02.51.31.81.54.0
Mar-89 — Aug-924.54.53.02.12.31.32.01.43.5
Sep-92 — Aug-975.34.63.52.42.91.31.31.04.0
Sep-97 — Sep-985.94.54.12.42.81.11.01.14.4
Oct-98 — Feb-036.43.74.13.22.71.21.41.16.0
Mar-03 — Oct-077.83.75.23.03.21.52.01.37.3
Nov-077.63.95.13.03.21.51.81.37.0
Dec-077.44.15.13.03.31.51.71.46.8
Jan-087.34.45.03.03.41.51.61.46.6
Feb-087.14.75.03.13.51.51.51.46.3
Mar-087.15.04.93.13.81.51.31.56.2
Apr-087.05.45.33.23.91.51.21.56.0
May-086.85.75.23.24.01.51.11.65.8
Jun-086.66.05.23.24.11.51.11.65.6
Jul-08 — Aug-098.37.66.54.05.21.81.42.08.0
Sep-097.87.26.13.74.91.71.31.97.4
Oct-097.36.75.83.54.61.61.21.86.9
Nov-096.96.45.43.34.41.61.21.76.5
Dec-09 — Jun-136.66.05.23.24.11.51.11.66.2
Jul-13 — Jan-148.44.49.83.64.51.80.72.59.0
Feb-14 onwards8.54.59.93.74.61.80.82.59.1
Greater Capital City Statistical AreasFeb-78 — Sep-82Oct-82 — Aug-87Sep-87 — Feb-89Mar-89 — Aug-92Sep-92 — Aug-97Sep-97 — Sep-98Oct-98 — Feb-03
Greater Sydney4.54.04.54.55.35.75.8
Rest of NSW4.54.04.54.55.35.75.8
Greater Melbourne4.54.04.54.54.64.63.3
Rest of Victoria4.54.04.54.54.64.33.2
Greater Brisbane3.53.03.03.03.53.73.4
Rest of Queensland3.53.03.03.03.64.33.6
Greater Adelaide2.51.82.02.12.42.42.7
Rest of South Australia2.51.82.02.12.52.22.5
Greater Perth2.52.02.52.32.92.62.3
Rest of Western Australia2.52.02.52.32.92.82.2
Greater Hobart1.51.01.31.31.31.10.9
Rest of Tasmania1.51.01.31.31.31.11.1
 Mar-03 — Feb-08Mar-08 — Jun-08Jul-08 — Oct-09Nov-09 — Jun-13Jul-13 — Jan-14Feb -14 onwards 
Greater Sydney6.55.77.15.77.67.7 
Rest of NSW6.45.67.05.67.57.6 
Greater Melbourne3.25.16.45.14.04.0 
Rest of Victoria3.15.06.35.03.93.9 
Greater Brisbane4.14.05.04.05.96.0 
Rest of Queensland4.44.35.44.36.36.4 
Greater Adelaide2.52.73.42.73.03.0 
Rest of South Australia2.42.53.12.52.82.8 
Greater Perth2.63.54.33.53.94.0 
Rest of Western Australia2.53.34.13.33.73.8 
Greater Hobart1.11.11.41.11.31.3 
Rest of Tasmania1.31.31.61.31.51.5 
Statistical Area Level 4 RegionsOct-98 — Feb-03Mar-03 — Feb-08Mar-08 — Jun-08Jul-08 — Oct-09Nov-09 — Jun-13Jul-13 — Jan-14Feb-14 onwards
Central Coast7.48.57.29.47.210.210.4
Sydney - Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury7.28.37.09.27.010.010.2
Sydney - Blacktown7.38.37.19.37.110.010.2
Sydney - City and Inner South8.59.78.310.88.311.711.9
Sydney - Eastern Suburbs9.611.09.312.29.313.113.4
Sydney - Inner South West7.38.47.19.37.110.110.3
Sydney - Inner West7.78.87.59.87.510.610.8
Sydney - North Sydney and Hornsby7.68.67.39.67.310.410.6
Sydney - Northern Beaches7.88.97.69.97.610.710.9
Sydney - Outer South West7.38.47.19.37.110.110.3
Sydney - Outer West and Blue Mountains7.38.37.19.37.110.010.2
Sydney - Parramatta7.88.97.610.07.610.811.0
Sydney - Ryde7.78.87.59.87.510.610.8
Sydney - South West7.58.67.39.67.310.410.6
Sydney - Sutherland7.48.47.29.47.210.110.3
Capital Region7.28.27.09.27.09.910.1
Central West7.68.77.49.77.410.510.7
Coffs Harbour - Grafton7.68.77.49.77.410.510.7
Far West and Orana7.48.47.29.47.210.110.3
Hunter Valley exc Newcastle7.18.16.99.06.99.810.0
Illawarra7.68.77.49.77.410.510.7
Mid North Coast7.58.67.39.67.310.310.6
Murray7.68.67.49.67.410.410.6
New England and North West7.68.77.49.77.410.510.7
Newcastle and Lake Macquarie7.18.16.99.06.99.89.9
Richmond - Tweed7.68.77.49.77.410.510.7
Riverina7.68.67.49.67.410.410.6
Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven9.010.38.711.48.712.312.6
Melbourne - Inner4.13.97.29.47.25.25.3
Melbourne - Inner East3.63.46.28.26.24.54.6
Melbourne - Inner South3.73.56.48.46.44.74.8
Melbourne - North East3.83.66.68.66.64.84.9
Melbourne - North West3.73.66.58.66.54.74.8
Melbourne - Outer East3.83.66.68.76.64.84.9
Melbourne - South East3.63.46.38.36.34.64.7
Melbourne - West3.53.46.18.16.14.44.5
Mornington Peninsula3.63.56.48.36.44.64.7
Ballarat4.03.86.99.16.95.05.1
Bendigo3.83.76.78.86.74.95.0
Geelong3.73.56.58.56.54.74.8
Hume4.34.17.49.77.45.45.5
Latrobe - Gippsland4.13.97.29.47.25.25.3
North West3.93.76.88.96.84.95.0
Shepparton4.34.17.49.77.45.45.5
Warrnambool and South West3.73.56.58.56.54.74.8
Brisbane - East4.15.15.16.75.18.18.2
Brisbane - North4.15.25.16.75.18.18.3
Brisbane - South4.25.25.26.85.28.28.4
Brisbane - West4.15.25.16.75.18.28.3
Brisbane Inner City4.25.35.36.95.38.48.6
Ipswich4.05.05.06.55.07.98.1
Logan - Beaudesert4.35.45.37.05.38.48.6
Moreton Bay - North3.94.94.86.44.87.77.9
Moreton Bay - South3.94.94.86.34.87.77.9
Cairns4.96.26.18.06.19.79.9
Darling Downs - Maranoa4.65.85.77.55.79.19.3
Central Queensland4.25.35.26.95.28.38.5
Gold Coast4.35.55.47.15.48.68.7
Mackay - Isaac - Whitsunday4.25.35.26.95.28.38.5
Queensland - Outback4.75.95.87.65.89.29.4
Sunshine Coast4.35.45.37.05.38.58.7
Toowoomba4.65.85.77.55.79.09.2
Townsville4.75.95.87.65.89.29.4
Wide Bay4.65.85.77.55.79.09.2
Adelaide - Central and Hills3.33.13.34.33.33.73.8
Adelaide - North3.33.03.34.33.33.73.8
Adelaide - South3.43.13.44.43.43.83.9
Adelaide - West3.73.43.74.83.74.14.2
Barossa - Yorke - Mid North3.53.23.54.53.53.94.0
South Australia - Outback3.73.43.74.83.74.14.2
South Australia - South East3.12.83.14.03.13.53.5
Mandurah2.42.84.05.24.04.64.7
Perth - Inner3.13.54.96.54.95.85.9
Perth - North East2.93.34.66.14.65.45.5
Perth - North West2.83.24.55.94.55.25.3
Perth - South East2.93.34.76.14.75.55.6
Perth - South West2.73.14.35.74.35.05.1
Bunbury2.42.84.05.24.04.64.7
Western Australia - Outback (North and South)2.83.34.66.04.65.45.5
Western Australia - Wheat Belt2.63.04.25.54.24.95.0
Greater Hobart0.91.11.11.41.11.31.3
Launceston and North East1.31.51.51.91.51.71.8
Tasmania - South East1.61.91.92.41.92.22.2
Tasmania - West and North West1.31.61.62.01.61.81.8
Darwin1.41.71.01.31.00.90.9
Northern Territory - Outback1.41.71.01.31.00.90.9

Quality declaration - summary

Institutional environment

Labour Force statistics are compiled from the Labour Force Survey which is conducted each month throughout Australia as part of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) household survey program. For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

Relevance

The Labour Force Survey provides monthly information about the labour market activity of Australia's resident civilian population aged 15 years and over. The Labour Force Survey is designed to primarily provide estimates of employment and unemployment for the whole of Australia and, secondarily, for each state and territory.

Timeliness

The Labour Force Survey enumeration begins on the Sunday between the 5th and 11th of the month, except for the Christmas and New Year holiday period. In December enumeration starts between the 3rd and 9th (4 weeks after November enumeration begins). In January enumeration starts between the 7th and 13th (5 weeks after December enumeration begins).

Key estimates from the Labour Force Survey are published in two stages. The first, Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0), is released 39 days after the commencement of enumeration for the month, with the exception of estimates for December which are published 46 days after the commencement of enumeration.

The second stage includes detailed data that were not part of the first stage and are published in Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001) and Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003). The second stage is released 7 days after the first stage.

Accuracy

The Labour Force Survey is based on a sample of private dwellings (approximately 26,000 houses, flats etc) and non-private dwellings, such as hotels and motels. The sample covers about 0.32% of the Australian civilian population aged 15 years or over. The Labour Force Survey is designed primarily to provide estimates of key labour force statistics for the whole of Australia and, secondarily, for each state and territory.

Two types of error are possible in an estimate based on a sample survey: non-sampling error and sampling error.

Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort is made to minimise reporting error by the careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient data processing procedures. Non-sampling error also arises because information cannot be obtained from all people selected in the survey. The Australian Labour Force Survey receives a higher level of co-operation from individuals in selected dwellings compared to other countries, with the average response rate over the past 3 years being 92.0 per cent, and the average rate over the past year being 91.75 per cent (to the nearest quarter of a per cent, in rounded terms). See Glossary for definition of response rate.

Sampling error occurs because a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed. One measure of the likely difference resulting from not including all dwellings in the survey is given by the standard error. There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one standard error from the figure that would have been obtained if all dwellings had been included in the survey, and about nineteen chances in twenty that the difference will be less than two standard errors.

Standard errors of key estimates and movements since the previous month are available in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). The standard error of other estimates and movements may be calculated by using the spreadsheet contained in Labour Force Survey Standard Errors, Data Cube (cat. no. 6298.0.55.001).

Coherence

The ABS has been conducting the Labour Force Survey each month since February 1978. While seeking to provide a high degree of consistency and comparability over time by minimising changes to the survey, sound survey practice requires careful and continuing maintenance and development to maintain the integrity of the data and the efficiency of the collection.

The changes which have been made to the Labour Force Survey have included changes in sampling methods, estimation methods, concepts, data item definitions, classifications, and time series analysis techniques. In introducing these changes the ABS has generally revised previous estimates to ensure consistency and coherence with current estimates. For a full list of changes made to the Labour Force Survey see the History of Changes in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001).

Interpretability

The key estimates from the Labour Force Survey are available as original, seasonally adjusted and trend series. Seasonal adjustment is a means of removing the effects of normal seasonal variation from the series so other influences on the series can be more clearly recognised. Seasonal adjustment does not aim to remove the irregular influences which may be present and therefore month-to-month movements may not be reliable indicators of underlying behaviour. To assist in interpreting the underlying behaviour, the ABS produces the trend series by smoothing the seasonally adjusted series to reduce the impact of the irregular component. For further information, see A Guide to Interpreting Time Series - Monitoring Trends (cat. no. 1349.0).

Further information on the terminology and other technical aspects associated with statistics from the Labour Force Survey can be found in the publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0), which contains detailed Explanatory Notes, Standard Error information and a Glossary.