6150.0.55.002 - Information Paper: Australian Labour Account, July 2017  
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AUSTRALIAN LABOUR ACCOUNT DEVELOPMENT

INTRODUCTION

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will release on 25 July 2017, the first annual experimental Australian Labour Account for 2010–11 to 2015–16. Ahead of this release, the detailed methodology of the Australian Labour Account will be released on 18 July 2017 in the Australian Labour Account: Concepts, Sources and Methods. In advance of these publications, this article provides an overview of the Labour Account.

The Labour Account provides a conceptual framework through which existing labour market data from diverse business and household sources can be confronted and integrated, with the aim of producing a coherent and consistent set of aggregate labour market statistics, with both an industry focus and time series dimension.

The Labour Account consists of four quadrants: Jobs; Persons; Labour Volume and Labour Payments.

Figure 1: Australian Labour Account Quadrants

Figure 1: Australian Labour Account Quadrants

The Labour Account provides a time series of estimates of the number of employed persons, the number of jobs, hours worked and the income earned for each industry in one coherent framework.

Historically, published estimates of employed persons in each industry have only been available for industry of main job. The expanded scope and additional data sources used in the Labour Account include data for multiple job holders by their industry of second, third and fourth job.

For the first time, this enables an industry perspective of the total number of people employed in each industry in a time series. This could be used to better assess policy changes targeting a particular industry, providing a more complete picture of the number of people impacted by the change.

USES OF THE LABOUR ACCOUNT

The Australian Labour Account tables are designed for use in macro-economic analysis, and should assist users in understanding the employment implications of developments such as globalisation, new technologies, growth of services and the changing pattern of global demand for resources.

The Labour Account could also be used for industry analysis of labour growth and performance in terms of people, jobs, hours and income.

An important use of the Australian Labour Account is expected to be in the analysis of productivity, where the Australian Labour Account provides data on hours worked at an industry level that are more coherent with industry output than data currently available from the household Labour Force Survey.

The Australian Labour Account could also help users understand the economic contribution of groups who fall outside the scope of official labour force statistics, particularly the role of short-term working visa holders.

The Labour Account is designed to complement the existing suite of labour statistics. Australia’s official labour force data are derived from the household Labour Force Survey and published in Labour Force, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6202.0), which remains the source of internationally comparable statistics on the labour force, employment and unemployment. If users require detailed information essential for analysis of individual or household characteristics, such as household type, age, sex, income, occupation and educational qualifications, they should also use Labour Force Survey data.

LABOUR ACCOUNT FRAMEWORK

The Labour Account quadrants (jobs, persons, labour volume and labour payments) have a number of identity relationships which are either derived or produced from compiling a Labour Account (see Figure 2).

The Jobs Quadrant provides data on numbers of filled jobs derived separately from business and household sources, plus data on vacant jobs to provide a total number of jobs in the economy.

The Persons Quadrant includes data on numbers of employed persons, together with data on numbers of unemployed and underemployed persons (derived from household sources).

The Labour Volume Quadrant provides data on hours paid for (derived from business sources) and hours worked (from household sources), plus data on additional hours of work sought by unemployed and underemployed persons (from household sources).

The Labour Payments Quadrant provides data on labour income and employment costs (from business sources).

The Labour Account combines data from the persons, jobs, labour volume and labour payments tables to calculate average hours worked, average remuneration (per person and per job), and average labour cost per hour worked.

Figure 2: Australian Labour Account Identity Relationships – Jobs, Persons, Volume and Payments

Figure 2: Australian Labour Account Identity Relationship

The scope of the Australian Labour Account is consistent with that of the national economy, as defined in the Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA), which follows the international standard set out in the United Nations System of National Accounts.

Labour Account tables are likely to be of most value to people engaged in the use of labour statistics in macro-economic analysis, forecasting and in policy related research.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information on the development of the Australian Labour Account please contact Jennifer Humphrys, Director of Household Income and Labour Market Section on 02 6252 7988 – or alternatively email jennifer.humphrys@abs.gov.au.