6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Nov 2003
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2003
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TREND ESTIMATES (MONTHLY CHANGE)
SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES (MONTHLY CHANGE)
CHANGES THIS MONTH
This publication and associated electronic products have been redesigned to improve the presentation of data for persons aged 15–19 years, to give greater focus to trend data, and to provide longer time series. Details of these changes are available in Information Paper: Changes to Labour Force Survey Products (cat. no. 6297.0) which was released on 23 October 2003. This information paper is available free from this web site (Themes - People, Labour).
The ABS has begun the progressive implementation of computer assisted interviewing (CAI) into the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Under CAI, interviewers record responses directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a laptop computer.
In both the October and November surveys, the CAI method was used on a random 10% sub-sample of survey interviews. The remaining 90% of interviews were conducted using the traditional 'pen and paper' method.
The change to the interviewing method is not expected to affect the published estimates in any meaningful way. Nonetheless, the ABS is monitoring the situation carefully and has conducted a range of analyses on both October and November data. These analyses have confirmed that any effect that the change in interview method in the 10% CAI sub-sample may have had on survey responses has not materially affected the aggregate estimates for either month.
The proportion of LFS interviews conducted using CAI will remain at 10% for the December and January surveys. Subject to further analysis continuing to confirm that the change in method is not having a significant impact on survey estimates, the use of CAI will increase to 40% of interviews in February 2004, then to 70% in April 2004, and finally to 100% in May 2004.
Users will continue to be informed of the progress of CAI implementation, including the results of further analyses, through updates in this publication.
For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Craig Blair on (02) 6252 6525.
The ABS will be introducing a number of changes to labour force statistics over the next few months.
The first of these changes, to be introduced with the release of December 2003 LFS data, relates to the seasonal adjustment process used to produce LFS estimates. The second group of changes involves revisions to detailed original data at the unit record level which will flow through to published aggregated data. These changes will be introduced with the release of February 2004 LFS data.
The changes which will impact upon this publication and associated electronic products are detailed below. Further information on all the changes will be available in Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics (cat. no. 6292.0) to be released on 16 December 2003. This information paper will be available free from this web site (Themes - People, Labour).
SEASONAL ADJUSTMENT PROCESSES
From the December 2003 issue of this publication, the ABS will use concurrent seasonal adjustment in the LFS, replacing the forward factor adjustment process currently used to produce seasonally adjusted estimates. Concurrent seasonal adjustment uses original data up to and including the current month to produce seasonally adjusted and trend series, while the forward factor adjustment method only revises seasonal factors annually.
By increasing the frequency of seasonal reanalysis from annually to monthly, concurrent seasonal adjustment produces initial seasonally adjusted estimates that are usually closer on average to their final values, as any change in seasonality is picked up sooner. While revisions under the concurrent seasonal adjustment method are more frequent (monthly), the degree of revision is generally less than with the forward factor method of adjustment (where revisions are made annually).
Analysis has also shown that the proximity of LFS interviewing to holidays can have an effect on both people's availability for the survey and on their labour market involvement. A specific adjustment for this effect in respect of the January interview start date and the timing of Easter will be introduced to coincide with the introduction of concurrent seasonal adjustment.
REVISION OF POPULATION BENCHMARKS
LFS estimates of persons employed, unemployed and not in the labour force are calculated in such a way as to add up to independent estimates of the civilian population aged 15 and over (population benchmarks). These population benchmarks are revised every five years following the Census of Population and Housing. From February 2004, LFS estimates will be compiled using revised population benchmarks based on results from the 2001 Census. LFS estimates for the period January 1999 to January 2004 will also be revised based on the updated population benchmarks. The revised estimates will be available with the release of the February 2004 issue of this publication on 11 March 2004.
The population benchmarks currently used by the LFS are classified by state/territory of usual residence, capital city/rest of state, age and sex. In addition to these population benchmarks, from February 2004 the LFS will use population benchmarks for labour force region by sex. There are currently 68 labour force regions across Australia. The introduction of regional benchmarks will improve the quality of estimates for labour force regions without compromising the quality of estimates at national, state and territory levels.
LFS estimates for labour force regions (available each month in electronic products) will be revised back to January 1999.
In February 2004, the ABS will introduce a minor change to the definition of unemployed persons. The change relates to a small group of persons ('future starters') who had not actively looked for work because they were waiting to start a new job within four weeks from the end of the survey reference week, and would have started in the reference week if the job had been available then. These persons are currently classified as not in the labour force. From February 2004 they will be classified as unemployed, in line with International Labour Organisation guidelines.
Data to support this change has been available since the new LFS questionnaire was introduced in April 2001. However, the ABS announced then that, due to concerns that such a change could result in a break in some core labour force series, implementation of the change would be deferred until February 2004 (see Information Paper: Implementing the Redesigned Labour Force Survey Questionnaire (cat. no. 6295.0) which was released on 3 May 2001). This timing coincides with the five-yearly revision of population benchmarks mentioned above.
LFS estimates will be revised back to April 2001 to reflect this change. Revised estimates will be available with the release of the February 2004 issue of this publication on 11 March 2004. Analysis has shown that the unemployment rate will increase as a result of this definitional change by an average of 0.1 - 0.2 percentage points. A small break will remain in the unemployed persons and unemployment rate series at April 2001.
The trend estimate of employed persons generally rose from a low of 7,634,000 in January 1993 to 9,129,300 in September 2000. The trend estimate then fell slightly to 9,112,900 in December 2000, before rising to 9,540,300 in March 2003. The trend estimate then fell for three months, before rising to stand at 9,610,500 in November 2003.
The trend estimate of unemployed persons fell rapidly from 920,600 in September 1993 to 728,100 in July 1995. The trend estimate then rose to 771,800 in February 1997, before falling to 590,900 in September 2000. After rising to 675,900 in October 2001, the trend estimate has generally fallen to stand at 572,400 in November 2003.
The trend unemployment rate fell rapidly from 10.7% in August 1993 to 8.1% in July 1995. The trend estimate then rose slowly, reaching 8.4% in February 1997, before falling to 6.1% in September 2000. After rising to 6.9% in September 2001, the trend estimate has generally fallen to stand at 5.6% in November 2003.
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