Australia's Monthly Population Survey

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Use the 'Complete your survey' button below to create and/or log in to your ABS survey account and access your survey.

Purpose of the survey

Every month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) collects important information about Australia's workforce from people all over the country. The Monthly Population Survey is the largest household survey run by the ABS. It provides the official measures of employment and unemployment for the nation. 

To find out more about this survey, please see our Frequently Asked Questions below. You can also find out more about how the ABS is keeping the community safe during COVID-19.

Thank you. We acknowledge and value your time and effort for taking part in this survey. Your support helps us to produce the statistics that inform Australia's important decisions.

Frequently asked questions

I'm participating in the Monthly Population Survey – what is this?

This is an important national survey that collects information about Australia's workforce. It has been run every month by the Australian Bureau of Statistics since 1960.

The nation's employment and unemployment figures are produced from this survey. Information collected from the survey tells us how many people in Australia have work and how many don't have work. It also tells us how many are looking for work (or more work than they currently have). Results of this survey are used by government, businesses, and community groups to make important decisions that can affect you, your family and people you know.

We need your help to get it right. Every month around 26,000 households take part in this survey. Unless everyone plays their part we can't get a true picture of employment in Australia. That is why, no matter what your circumstances are, we need your whole household to complete the survey. Your information is important whether you are young or old, have a job, don’t have a job or you are retired. This makes sure services are provided in the right areas for those who need them most.

How do I complete the survey?

The easiest way to complete the Monthly Population Survey is online.

If you have been chosen to do this survey you will get a letter in the mail that has instructions and a secure Form Access Code for you to register online. Once you have created your ABS survey account and registered your contact details for the Monthly Population Survey, we will send you an email each month when your survey is ready to complete.

If you are having trouble registering, completing your survey, or have lost your registration letter please call us on 1800 023 105 and an ABS officer will be happy to help you.

If you would prefer to complete the survey over the phone or in person with an ABS interviewer please call us on 1800 023 105 to set a time that works for you. You can also register your contact details online, then choose a time for us to call you to complete your survey.

If we don't hear from you an interviewer may come to your home to help your household complete the survey. ABS interviewers will always identify themselves as an ABS officer and show you their official ABS photo identification. They will conduct the interview using a laptop computer.

We have done lots of planning on our community engagement and how to protect the people selected in our surveys and our interviewers, during Coronavirus (COVID-19). If you would like to know more about how the ABS is responding to the spread of COVID-19 please see how we are keeping the community safe during COVID-19.

 

Why was my household selected?

Every month about 26,000 households participate in the Monthly Population Survey. We collect data from a randomly chosen sample of households from all over Australia. This lets us build a picture that includes people from all backgrounds and lifestyles. All households have a chance of being chosen for this important national survey. Once a household has been selected, another household cannot replace it. If we change the random selection, some parts of the community could be missed.

It is very important that all chosen households complete the survey so the results represent the whole community. This means that decisions about services provided by government, local councils and community groups are made using the most correct information.

We have more information available on the sampling methodology used to select households for the Monthly Population Survey.

What will you ask me?

The Monthly Population Survey collects information about Australia's workforce, such as our employment and unemployment figures. This information helps with important decisions about employment, industry support and education.

The main part of the survey asks about your work:

  • If you are working, you will be asked about the hours you worked, your job, and the type of industry you work in.
  • If you are looking for work, you will be asked questions about steps you have taken to look for work, and the length of time you have been looking for work.
  • If you are retired, not working or looking for work, you will be asked questions to clarify your current situation and future plans.

These questions are asked each month to measure changes in peoples’ circumstances over time. While it might feel a little repetitive, it is very important that we measure any changes from month to month. This lets us produce reliable statistics and measure changes in the community accurately.

In some months you'll be asked extra questions on various topics including work arrangements, education or childcare arrangements.

These questions let us produce a range of statistics about Australia's workforce. Full results of the survey are available free of charge on the ABS website.

How is the information from this survey used? Why is it important?

The Monthly Population Survey provides information about the Australian population and workforce on a regular basis. The ABS produces the nation's official employment and unemployment figures from this survey.

Government departments use information from this survey to choose how to use public resources. This information helps to understand how different groups of people in Australia are affected by existing policies. This informs future changes to policy. Industry, trade unions and researchers also use information from this survey. This affects important decisions about employment services, industry support and education.

By taking part you make sure your experiences and circumstances become an important part of the picture of life in Australia today.

Full results of the survey are available free of charge on the ABS website.

Who in my household has to participate?

All household members over the age of 15 are included in the Monthly Population Survey. The questions can usually be answered online, over the phone, or in person for all of your household members in a few minutes. The answers can be provided by any adult member of the household, or each member of the household can complete their own section.

How long will I be in the survey for?

You will be included in the survey once a month for eight months. Completing the survey for eight months is important as this lets us measure any changes in your household's situation over time. The ABS combines your information with other households to produce reliable labour force statistics. This lets us measure change at national and state levels.

Most months the survey will be very quick and completed in less than 10 minutes. Some months may have extra questions about important topics relevant to the workforce. How long it takes to answer these questions can vary person to person.

If you move away from your address during the eight months, you will not need to continue completing the survey. The new occupants of the selected address will replace you in the survey.

There are some instances in which a household may not be required to complete all eight months of the survey. In these instances, we will send the household a letter informing them of this decision.

There are several reasons why a household may not be required to complete the full length of an ABS survey. For example, there might be COVID restrictions or environmental factors preventing an interviewer making contact, or the household may have been part of a sample selected for a shorter survey period.

We do not remove households from the survey based on personal information they may have already provided for the survey.

Is the survey compulsory?

We ask the questions included in this survey under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Under the Act, you are obliged to provide the information being requested, unless otherwise stated. The ABS is required by the Act to maintain the secrecy of all information provided to it. No information will be released in a way that would allow an individual household to be identified.

What happens if there are people in my household who don't speak English?

Where possible, an ABS interviewer who speaks the language of the householder will complete the interview. Alternatively, arrangements can be made to organise an interpreter to conduct the interview. Please call 1800 023 105 (free call, excluding mobile phones) so that these arrangements can be made.

I am retired, do I still complete the survey?

Yes, if you are retired you represent an important group of Australians. We need your information to make sure all Australians are represented in survey results. If we didn't include households with retired people in the survey, we couldn’t collect accurate information on the proportion of Australians who are looking for work. This is because estimates would not take into account the whole population. While we understand that in most cases there will be no change month to month in your answers, it is still very important that we check in with you each month. We need to make sure the same people are living at the address and there have been no other changes to your work status.

By taking part you help to make sure accurate statistics are produced about Australia's labour market. This means services are provided in the right areas for those who need them most. If you need help completing the survey online or want to complete over the phone, please call 1800 023 105 and an ABS officer will assist you.

How will you keep my information safe, secure and confidential?

The ABS takes the security of the information you give us very seriously.

All ABS employees have signed a legally enforceable Undertaking of Fidelity and Secrecy in which they agree to keep any information, including personal information which they may deal with in the course of their work, private and confidential. This agreement applies to ABS employees for the rest of their lives, even if they leave the ABS. The penalty for breaching this is two years imprisonment, a $26,640 fine, or both.

The ABS complies with the Australian Privacy Principles. If you believe the ABS has acted against these principles, you can find information on how to lodge a complaint within our Privacy Policy

How do I know the person contacting me is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics?

If your household was chosen to take part in the survey, you will have been sent a letter about this. You can also call us on 1800 023 105 to confirm your part in the survey.

For any personal visits, our staff will always identify themselves, show you their official ABS photo identification and clearly explain the information they are looking for and how we will use it.

You may get calls from numbers you don’t know including mobile phones or 'unknown' numbers. This is because many of our Interviewers work from home and use ABS authorised mobile phones and office phones, connected to our highly secure networks, to conduct interviews over the phone.

We may get your phone number from the Sensis White Pages if we need to contact you. This information is kept secure and confidential in line with the ABS Privacy Policy. For more information on how your privacy will be protected please see the Privacy Impact Assessment on linkage of the Address Register with Census or contact data.

The ABS will never ask you to provide or confirm your bank details or tax file number (TFN).

If you are concerned, you can call us on 1800 023 105 and we can confirm your part in the survey and the identity of the interviewer who is contacting you.

I'm having trouble completing the survey online – where can I find help?

Please see our Survey Account Help page for help with technical difficulties and answers to frequently asked questions on creating and using an ABS Survey Account.

You can also call us on 1800 023 105 and one of our team will be happy to help you.

Where do I find my Form Access Code?

You can find your secure Form Access Code in the letter that you received in the mail.

You'll need this code to link the Monthly Population Survey to your ABS Survey Account. Once it is linked you can complete your contact details form. If you cant find your Form Access Code, or need help, please call 1800 023 105 and an ABS officer will be able to help you.

For a male/female question, am I able to respond with another term?

Yes you can. There is a process in place to allow survey participants to indicate a response other than ‘male’ or ‘female’, by calling the ABS contact centre on 1800 023 105 and completing the interview over the telephone. This is a temporary process until the survey questionnaire and related systems can be updated.

The ABS is committed to implementing the 'Standard for Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables, 2020' for its household-based surveys, including the Monthly Population Survey.

 

Who can I contact for more information?

If you need help or more information about the Monthly Population Survey please call us on 1800 023 105 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm AEST.

For help outside these hours, please leave a message with your contact details and we will call you back.

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