Data from the monthly Labour Force Survey are released in two stages:
- Labour Force, Australia - which contains headline estimates of employment, unemployment, underemployment, participation and hours worked
- Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - which contains detailed data not included in the first release
This second release of Labour Force Survey data includes the latest detailed monthly and quarterly data. Some information, including industry, occupation, sector, job duration, and retrenchment, is only available for February, May, August and November.
As a result, in the 'non-quarter' months, the quarterly spreadsheets and datacubes have a different reference period. For example, the May issue contains May monthly and May quarterly data, while the July issue will contain July monthly and May quarterly data.
For more information on the data contained in the first and second releases, see the Survey output section of the Labour Force Survey Methodology page.
Using regional labour force data
Annual averages are important for understanding the current state of the labour market, and providing medium and long-term signals.
However, unusual, sudden and/or extreme changes in the labour market (e.g. changes to regular and seasonal patterns in employment, working hours, job search or availability as a result of COVID-19) can be difficult to account for in the short-term using a 12 month moving average. The application of an annual average to the original regional estimates in Table 16b is unlikely to accurately or quickly detect turning points in the time series during periods of significant change, which should be considered before drawing any conclusions from these estimates.
For advice on reporting data from our regional labour force products (Pivot tables RM1, RM3 and Tables 16, 16B, 16C) see Advice on reporting regional labour force data.
Update on enhanced Regional Labour Market Data
As part of ongoing improvements to the estimation method for Labour Force statistics, the ABS is also developing improved monthly regional labour force estimates.
A new information paper was released on 30th October 2023 with the following updates on progress towards releasing higher quality regional labour force statistics:
- refinements to the model that will be used to produce improved SA4 level estimates
- updated SA4 estimates through to August 2023, based on the refined version of the model
- information on release plans, including timing
- plans to continue enhancing regional labour force statistics through modelling finer level sub-state estimates.
The ABS has also released a research paper, A Rao-Yu model for small area estimation of labour force statistics, with additional details on the Rao-Yu area-level time series model used to produce these estimates.
The first release of the information paper on this project was in June 2023.
Upcoming improvements to the Labour Force estimation method in early 2024
As part of ongoing improvements to the estimation method for Labour Force statistics, the ABS will make some minor changes in how it accounts for some relatively small population groups within the sample.
There are various small groups, which together account for less than 2 per cent of the overall sample, who are more difficult to survey each month, contribute a higher degree of underlying sampling variability, and for whom there is more reliable auxiliary data sources (e.g. regular administrative data). This includes some people who don’t live in private dwellings and some people who live in remote and very remote parts of Australia.
As stated on 19 October 2023, ABS research and analysis has shown that estimation models that draw on auxiliary data for these groups produce a better quality contribution for them to aggregate Labour Force statistics.
Since then, in finalising the improved estimation model, the ABS has identified further improvements in how the auxiliary data should be used within these models.
Given many, but not all, of these groups have a relatively higher proportion of people who are not in the labour force, the optimised estimation method will better account for these people and their labour force characteristics. For recent years, this will generally mean an increase in the level and reduce the variability in the aggregate estimate of persons not in the labour force, along with corresponding changes to the employed and unemployed estimates.
The revisions to the participation rate will therefore now be greater than was noted in the 19 October release, while there will still be relatively little change in the unemployment rate.
In order to afford time to incorporate these further improvements into the method, the ABS will now introduce the new method with the February 2024 release (and quarterly population rebenchmarking revisions) on 21 March 2024, and not in the November 2023 release on 14 December 2023 as previously advised.
Further information, including on revisions, will be provided in the January 2024 release of Labour Force, Australia on 15 February.