LABOUR FORCE SURVEY
Labour Force Survey Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Telephone (02) 6252 6525
The monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) collects information about persons aged 15 years and over, to estimate the numbers of employed and unemployed persons classified by sex, full-time/part-time status, states and territories and some age groups; and of persons not in the labour force.
A component of each monthly survey is a supplementary survey, part of the Monthly Population Survey program, which collects different data each month on particular aspects of the labour force.
The LFS includes all persons aged 15 years and over, except: members of the permanent Australian defence forces; certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from census and estimated population counts; overseas residents in Australia; and members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia.
The week prior to interview.
Frequency of Collection
Method of Collection
The LFS is based on a multi-stage area sample of private dwellings (currently about 22,800 houses, flats, etc.) and a list sample of non-private dwellings (hotels, motels, etc.), and covers about 0.24% of the population of Australia. Information is obtained from the occupants of selected dwellings by specially trained interviewers using computer-assisted interviewing (CAI), whereby responses are recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire on a notebook computer. The CAI method was implemented in 2003–04, replacing the 'pencil and paper' questionnaire method previously used.
Households selected for the LFS are interviewed each month for eight months, with one-eighth of the sample being replaced each month. The first interview is conducted face-to-face. Subsequent interviews are conducted by telephone (if acceptable to the respondent).
Estimates from the LFS are published 31 days after the commencement of interviews for that month, with the exception of estimates for each December, which are published 38 days after the commencement of interviews.
Labour Force, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6202.0)
Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (ABS cat. no. 6291.0.55.001)
Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (ABS cat. no. 6291.0.55.003)
Descriptions of the underlying concepts of Australia's labour statistics, and the sources and methods used in compiling these statistics, are presented in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (ABS cat. no. 6102.0.55.001).
Various changes have been made to the LFS and its associated product sets since May 2007. They are sketched briefly below.
Composite Estimation, introduced May 2007: this improved method of estimation is described in the Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics (ABS cat. no. 6292.0). The paper also outlines detailed information on statistical impacts of composite estimation, which was introduced with the release of May 2007 labour force statistics in Labour Force, Australia. At the same time, the ABS released revised historical LFS statistics based on composite estimation, back to April 2001. An updated standard error model was also introduced, to reflect the composite estimation method. The change to composite estimation has affected all LFS statistical releases (publications, spreadsheets, and data cubes).
Sample Redesign, and sample size reduction: The ABS Information Paper: Labour Force Survey Sample Design, Nov 2007 (Second edition) (ABS cat. no. 6269.0) provides information on changes to the sample used for the LFS. The November 2007 edition outlines the current sample design used in the survey, based on 2006 Census data. The second edition (released July 2008) provides supplementary information about a further reduction in sample size, which took effect from the July 2008 survey (statistics released in August 2008).
Revised Population Benchmarks: from the February 2009 issue onwards, LFS estimates in Labour Force, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6202.0) and associated LFS releases have been compiled using population benchmarks based on results from the 2006 Census. Likewise, revised LFS Statistical Region boundaries were adopted then. The February 2009 issue also saw full implementation of the latest classifications of occupation and industry in the 'quarter month' surveys (February, May, August, and November). These are coded respectively to ANZSCO – Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, First Edition, 2006 (ABS cat. no. 1220.0), and the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (ABS cat. no. 1292.0). Industry data, backcast to ANZSIC 2006 from the November 1984 survey onwards, were also released with the February 2009 issue.
Data are available for Australia, and each state and territory.
An extensive data service, including microdata, is available for the LFS. Customised data are available on request; this is a charged service.
A spreadsheet allowing calculation of standard errors for estimates from the LFS is available in Labour Force Survey Standard Errors, Data Cube, Sept 2008 (ABS cat. no. 6298.0.55.001).
Time series data corresponding to the monthly LFS publication tables are now available on the 'Downloads' tab of Labour Force, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6202.0).
LFS microdata with education content is documented in Labour Force Survey and Labour Mobility, Australia: Basic and Expanded Confidentialised Unit Record Files, Technical Manual, Feb 2008 (ABS cat. no. 6202.0.30.005).
State or territory of usual residence
Area of usual residence
Region of usual residence
Relationship in household
Country of birth and period of arrival
Age group (years)
Labour force status
Status in employment
Looking for work
Participation in education
From April 2001 the Labour Force Survey has been conducted using a redesigned questionnaire containing additional data items and some minor definitional changes (such as unemployed persons). For further details, see Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics (ABS cat. no. 6292.0), released in December 2003.
This page last updated 4 June 2009