About labour statistics guide

Guide to labour statistics

Learn more about our different measures, data sources and information available

Released
7/11/2022

Overview

Labour statistics are about people. They measure people's participation in work – their earnings, type of work, working hours and conditions – as well as their success in, or barriers to, finding work.

Labour statistics provide insight into the economy and the effect of policy settings on the population through measures related to labour supply and demand, as well as its price.

Measures and uses

Labour statistics sit at the intersection of economic and social statistics. They provide information about the size and structure of Australia's workforce required for policy formulation, evaluation and macro-economic modelling, and measure relationships between employment, income and other social and economic characteristics.

Four key components related to work and the broader labour market are measured:

  • People
  • Jobs 
  • Hours
  • Payments 

The various data sources and available information related to people, jobs, hours and payments are designed for different purposes, and can have different definitions, timings or features. We encourage you to use a range of measures together to better understand the state of the labour market. For more information, see Scope of Australian labour statistics and Uses and users of labour statistics in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods.

The four pillars of ABS labour statistics

ABS labour statistics are drawn from four key types of data sources, or "pillars" of data, which provide complementary insights into the labour market across a range of topics. 

For more information, see Methods: Four pillars of labour statistics in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods.

The four pillars

The four pillars of Australian labour market statistics: household surveys, business surveys. administrative data and Labour Accounts.

The four pillars

The image shows the four data pillars that underpin Australian labour market statistics: household surveys, business surveys, administrative data and Labour Accounts.
Household surveys: Employment; Unemployment rate; Underemployment; Mobility and churn; Joblessness and barriers to work; Working arrangements; Job flexibility; Job security; Union membership; Earnings (socio-demographic and job characteristics); Retirement; Work-related injuries.
Business Surveys: Headline earnings; Hourly earnings; Earnings distributions; Wage Price Indexes; Pay-setting methods; Job vacancies; Public sector employment; Industrial disputes.
Administrative data: Payroll jobs indexes; Wages indexes; Jobs by detailed industry; Regional jobs and employment; Job relationships; Jobs throughout the year; Employment by business size; Personal/Employee income; Income inequality.
Labour Accounts: Jobs by industry; Filled and unfilled jobs; Hours worked by industry; Multiple job-holding; Secondary jobs; Public/Private sector employment; Total and average labour income; Labour costs.
Underneath the four pillars is a box which says, 'Underpinning frameworks and concepts'.

Statistical releases

Our labour-related statistical releases inform on issues related to work and the labour market. These releases are drawn from a variety of different data sources and are available on the ABS website.

Each release generally includes a high-level overview of findings, spreadsheets containing more detailed data, and a methodology page providing explanatory information on the methods used to produce the release. Some releases also have accompanying TableBuilder and/or microdata products to enable you to produce customised tables or undertake more detailed analysis.

Most releases include a media release covering high level statistical information drawing out the main stories of interest from the latest statistics.

Some labour statistics releases are accompanied by articles providing in depth analysis of a statistical topic of interest. They explain the data, changes over time and underlying factors.

Labour statistics by theme

The tables below show our releases grouped according to the labour market theme(s) they provide data for.

Employment
ReleasePillarFrequencyDescription
Labour Account AustraliaAccountsQuarterlyEmployment by sector and by Industry – Division level (quarterly) and Sub-division (annual).
Labour Force, AustraliaLabour Force, Australia, DetailedLongitudinal Labour ForceHousehold surveyMonthlyHeadline employment estimates. Labour force status over time including short-term transitions, for example flows into and out of employment and unemployment.

Labour Force Status of Families

Household surveyAnnualLabour force characteristics for whole families, for example 'jobless families'. Sourced from the monthly Labour Force Survey.
Employment and Earnings, Public SectorBusiness surveyAnnualPublic sector estimates by state/territory, and level of government.
Retirement and Retirement IntentionsHousehold surveyTwo-yearlyRetirement age, retirement expectations, sources of income in retirement.
Jobs
ReleasePillarFrequencyDescription 
Labour Account AustraliaAccountsQuarterlyJobs (total jobs, main and secondary filled jobs and unfilled jobs) by sector and by Industry – Division level (quarterly) and Sub-division (annual).
Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages Admin dataMonthlyWeekly payroll jobs indexes including percentage change movement, based on Single Touch Payroll data.
Job VacanciesBusiness surveyQuarterlyFrequent measure of unmet labour demand – leading indicator of employment.
Jobs in AustraliaAdmin dataAnnualDetailed geographic, demographic, industry and occupation data on filled jobs, based on Personal Income Tax data.
Job mobilityHousehold surveyAnnualJob changes over the year, and previous job details. Sourced from the annual Participation Job Search and Mobility Labour Force supplementary survey.
Hours worked
ReleasePillarFrequencyDescription 
Labour Account AustraliaAccountsQuarterlyHours worked across entire quarter – Division level (quarterly) and Sub-division (annual).
Labour Force, Australia;  Labour Force, Australia, Detailed;  Longitudinal Labour ForceHousehold surveyMonthlyReference week hours actually and usually worked, total monthly hours worked. Month-to-month changes.
Underemployed workersHousehold surveyAnnualHours worked and not worked of the underemployed. Sourced from the monthly Labour Force Survey, supplemented with data from the annual Participation Job Search and Mobility Labour Force supplementary survey.
Working arrangementsHousehold surveyAnnualRegularity/certainty of hours, including whether guaranteed minimum hours. Sourced from the annual Characteristics of Employment Labour Force supplementary survey.
Employee Earnings and HoursBusiness surveyTwo-yearlyAverage weekly total hours paid for.
Underemployment, unemployment, and joblessness
ReleasePillarFrequencyDescription 
Labour Force, Australia;  Labour Force, Australia, Detailed;  Longitudinal Labour ForceHousehold surveyMonthlyHeadline unemployment estimates.
Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force ParticipationHousehold surveyTwo-yearlyFactors that influence how people participate in the labour market and the hours they work.
Potential workersHousehold surveyAnnualMeasures potential labour supply. Sourced from the annual Participation Job Search and Mobility Labour Force supplementary survey.
Underemployed workersHousehold surveyAnnualComprehensive measure of extent of cyclical and structural underemployment. Sourced from the monthly Labour Force Survey, supplemented with data from the annual Participation Job Search and Mobility Labour Force supplementary survey.
Labour market dynamics
ReleasePillarFrequencyDescription 
Labour Force, Australia;  Labour Force, Australia, Detailed;  Longitudinal Labour ForceHousehold surveyMonthlyLabour force status over time, including short-term transitions and flows into and out of employment and unemployment.
Job mobilityHousehold surveyAnnualJob changes over the year, and previous job details. Sourced from the annual Participation Job Search and Mobility Labour Force supplementary survey.
Earnings
ReleasePillarFrequencyDescription 
Average Weekly EarningsBusiness surveySix-monthlyHeadline level estimates of earnings. Used extensively in legislation.
Employee Earnings and HoursBusiness surveyTwo-yearlyComposition and distribution of weekly and hourly earnings, and pay-setting methods.
Employee earningsHousehold surveyAnnualEarnings for detailed demographic and employment characteristics. Sourced from the annual Characteristics of Employment Labour Force supplementary survey.
Employment and Earnings, Public SectorBusiness surveyAnnualPublic sector estimates by state/territory, and level of government.
Labour Account AustraliaAccountsQuarterlyLabour payments, labour costs, labour income, compensation of employees, by sector and by Industry – Division level (quarterly) and Sub-division (annual).
Labour CostsBusiness surveyIrregularComponents of labour costs – Earnings, Superannuation, Payroll tax, workers compensation, Fringe Benefits Tax.
Personal Income in AustraliaAdmin dataAnnualDetailed geographic, demographic and occupation data on personal income, based on Personal Income Tax data.
Wage Price IndexBusiness surveyQuarterlyQuarterly and annual wage indexes, unaffected by changes in compositional factors including employee characteristics and hours worked by industry, state/territory and sector.
Weekly Payroll Jobs and WagesAdmin dataMonthlyWeekly total wage indexes including percentage change movement, based on Single Touch Payroll data.
Working arrangements, conditions and workplace relations
ReleasePillarFrequencyDescription 
Employee Earnings and HoursBusiness surveyTwo-yearlyEarnings and hours statistics by method of setting pay, and employment status and type.
Industrial DisputesBusiness surveyQuarterlyNumber of disputes, employees involved and working days lost.
Working arrangementsHousehold surveyAnnualSourced from the annual Characteristics of Employment Labour Force supplementary survey, supplemented by data from the monthly Labour Force Survey.
Work-related injuriesHousehold surveyFour-yearlyIncluding type of injury, job details and work-related injury financial assistance.
Trade union membershipHousehold surveyTwo-yearlySourced from Characteristics of Employment Labour Force supplementary survey.
Pregnancy and employment transitions Household surveyIrregularLabour market participation of women during pregnancy and after the birth.
Other releases
ReleasePillarFrequencyDescription 
Census of Population and HousingHousehold surveyFive-yearlyCollects data from everyone on a range of topics, including income and work.
Education and workHousehold surveyAnnualEducation participation and attainment, along with engagement in education and work.
Personal Income of MigrantsAdmin dataAnnualEstimates of personal income of migrants including by visa stream and type of income, sourced from the Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset.
Characteristics of recent migrantsHousehold surveyThree-yearly - DiscontinuedEmployment outcomes relating to visa type, birth country, education and language skills. Final release: November 2019.
Qualifications and workHousehold surveyIrregularEducation qualifications and relevance to current jobs.
Voluntary workHousehold surveyIrregularProvision of unpaid help beyond own family and household. Sourced from the General Social Survey.

Customised data

There are a number of ways to access more detailed data through self-service or working with the ABS, in addition to what is available on the ABS website including:

  • TableBuilder – Create, save and download your own tables using many topics
  • Microdata – Basic and detailed unit record information released through the DataLab to approved users for statistical analysis and research
  • Integrated data – The ABS is an accredited Integrating Authority, and works with government, research institutions and businesses on data integration projects that have a clear public benefit
  • Customised data requests – Consultancy service providing aggregate data tailored to meet your needs

Some of these services may incur a fee, see Data Services for more information.

Information about labour statistics

  • Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods provides a comprehensive description of the concepts and definitions underpinning labour statistics and the data sources and methods used to compile them. It should be read together with release specific methodology pages.
  • Guide to labour statistics is a summary resource on key labour market topics, designed to help people to understand labour statistics and identify the best source for their analysis. Additional topics will be added over time.
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