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.
For advice on reporting data from our regional labour force products (Pivot tables RM1, RM3 and Tables 16, 16B, 16C), please refer to: Advice on reporting regional labour force data.
Managing the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Labour Force statistics
The ABS is currently monitoring for potential impacts from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Labour Force statistics and will continue to do so for the period of the pandemic.
Quality assurance of data for February did not identify any notable impact to headline statistics. It is important to note that the reference weeks for February fell in the first half of the month, at a point where there was only a relatively low number of confirmed COVID-19 cases within Australia and before it was declared a global pandemic.
As with other major disruption to the economy, early impacts are usually most evident in the Monthly hours worked in all jobs series (Spreadsheet 19) in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). Additional information on hours worked data, including some analysis and advice in using these data, can be found in this month's spotlight article. This is part of a suite of additional information that was announced on 16 March 2020 to help measure the economic impact of COVID-19.
In addition to providing further analysis of Labour Force statistics, the ABS will be actively managing the potential risks from COVID-19 to its survey operations. The ABS suspended face-to-face interviews in the final week of the March survey, with all remaining interviews being conducted by telephone. Each month, only around 10% of households respond through face-to-face interviews, with around 90% responding through telephone interviews or online.
Respondents to the Labour Force Survey may note further changes in how the ABS contacts them over the coming months. The ABS acknowledges the tremendous support that the Australian community is continuing to provide in supporting high quality and critically important Labour Force statistics.
On 18 March, the ABS also released some interactive employment maps based on the most recent data from Jobs in Australia (cat. no 6160.0), which is based on summary administrative data, to support a regional assessment of potential impacts of COVID-19 on employment.
Managing the impact of bushfires on Labour Force statistics
Bushfires resulted in disruption to ABS data collection operations in some regions in New South Wales and Victoria during January 2020. A few areas in New South Wales, particularly within the ‘Capital Region’, were also unable to be surveyed in February 2020. These areas amounted to around half the sample which was unable to be surveyed in January 2020 in the state.
As with January data, the ABS confirmed that the disruption from the bushfires did not have a notable impact on key headline statistics and that no additional statistical interventions were required.
Region level data for the New South Wales regions of the ‘Capital Region’, ‘Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven’ and ‘Mid North Coast’ for January 2020 will not be published in the February 2020 Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001) on 26 March. February 2020 estimates for the ‘Capital Region’ will also not be published.
The ABS expects to resume publishing these estimates with the release of March 2020 data (in April). January 2020 data for 'Latrobe - Gippsland', in Victoria, will be available with the February release.
Managing the impact of the Townsville floods in February 2019
Flooding in Townsville in February 2019 resulted in a major disruption to the operation of the Labour Force Survey. Given the severity of these disruptions, which affected almost the entire region, and to ensure that this loss of sample did not affect data for Australia and Queensland, the ABS imputed sample for Townsville for February 2019. The imputation drew upon previous information that had recently been collected from people in Townsville.
The ABS re-assessed this imputation and has not revised the imputed data. However, users of the Townsville data, and totals for ‘Rest of Queensland’ data, should still exercise some extra caution when looking at yearly and monthly movements in February 2020.
Changes in future issues - new ABS website and improvements to detailed labour force data in 2020
The upcoming move to new ABS website provides an opportunity to simplify the way Labour Force information is released - so that it is more integrated and easier to find and use. The approach to releasing detailed Labour Force data will be changing, with all the detailed monthly and quarterly spreadsheets and datacubes that are currently released in two separate products (6291.0.55.001 and 6291.0.55.003) planned to be included in a single release (within the monthly 6291.0.55.001 product). The way the spreadsheets and datacubes are presented within this combined release will also be improved on the new website, with data grouped together thematically so that it is easier to find the data you're looking for.
This expanded monthly detailed release will always include the latest monthly and quarterly data, noting that for the 'non-quarter' months, the quarterly spreadsheets and datacubes will have a different reference period. For example, the May issue will contain May monthly and May quarterly data, while the June issue will contain June monthly and May quarterly data.
This change will occur with the release of detailed March 2020 data on 23 April, in Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001). This release will be expanded to also include the detailed quarterly time series spreadsheets and datacubes currently published in Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003) (for the February 2020 reference period). The quarterly publication Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003) will still be published in respect of May 2020, but is likely to be ceased after that, in conjunction with the move to the new website. While the location of the quarterly time series spreadsheets and datacubes will change, the file names, table names and time series IDs will all remain the same.
Additionally, after a period of feedback from stakeholders, the ABS will be ceasing publishing data relating to Sector of main job (public / private) due to data quality concerns. This affects Tables 26a, 26b, 27 and 28, currently published in Labour Force, Australia, detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003). This change is expected to also coincide with the move to the new ABS website in 2020. High quality sector information will continue to be available quarterly within the Labour Accounts (cat. no. 6150.0.55.003) and annually from Employment and Earnings, Public Sector, Australia (cat. no. 6248.0.55.002).
If you have any questions or feedback on these changes, please email us at email@example.com.
Quarterly population benchmarking
The ABS has revised the original Labour Force series for the previous 19 months to reflect the latest available preliminary and final estimates of Estimated Resident Population. This quarterly process ensures that the Labour Force series promptly reflects any change in population trends and minimises the size of revisions that can occur when the series are rebenchmarked following each Census of Population and Housing. It is expected that, on most occasions, the quarterly revisions will not be significant.
For further information about rebenchmarking, refer to the Rebenchmarking Labour Force Estimates article published in the February 2015 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).