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6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Dec 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/01/2004   
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December Key Figures

Nov 2003
Dec 2003
Nov 03 to Dec 03
Dec 02 to Dec 03

Trend
Employed persons ('000)
9,625.8
9,653.0
27.3
1.8
%
Unemployed persons ('000)
575.8
570.3
-5.5
-7.2
%
Unemployment rate (%)
5.6
5.6
-0.1
pts
-0.5
pts
Participation rate (%)
63.7
63.8
0.1
pts
-0.3
pts
Seasonally Adjusted
Employed persons ('000)
9,636.5
9,666.1
29.6
2.0
%
Unemployed persons ('000)
572.9
574.9
2.0
-6.8
%
Unemployment rate (%)
5.6
5.6
0.0
pts
-0.5
pts
Participation rate (%)
63.7
63.8
0.1
pts
-0.3
pts

Employed persons
Graph - Employed persons

Unemployment rate
Graph - Unemployment rate



December Key Points


TREND ESTIMATES (Monthly Change)

  • EMPLOYMENT increased to 9,653,000.
  • UNEMPLOYMENT decreased to 570,300.
  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE remained at 5.6%.
  • PARTICIPATION RATE increased to 63.8%.


SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES (Monthly Change)

EMPLOYMENT
  • increased by 29,600 to 9,666,100. Full-time employment increased by 16,100 to 6,927,500 and part-time employment increased by 13,500 to 2,738,500.

UNEMPLOYMENT
  • increased by 2,000 to 574,900. The number of persons looking for full-time work increased by 1,500 to 422,700 and the number of persons looking for part-time work increased slightly to 152,100.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
  • remained at 5.6%. The male unemployment rate decreased slightly but the rounded estimates remained at 5.3% and the female rate remained at 6.0%.

PARTICIPATION RATE
  • increased marginally to 63.8%.


Notes

CHANGES TO SEASONAL ADJUSTMENT PROCESSES

The ABS has introduced concurrent seasonal adjustment to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), replacing the forward factor adjustment method previously used to produce seasonally adjusted estimates. Under concurrent seasonal adjustment, seasonal factors are reanalysed each month using original data up to the current month.


By increasing the frequency of seasonal reanalyses 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 generally smaller, users should be aware that seasonally adjusted estimates will now (potentially) be revised each month.


Recent investigations by the ABS have found that the proximity of the survey reference period to holiday periods can have an impact on LFS estimates. For this reason, a specific adjustment for Easter and January holiday periods has been introduced to coincide with the introduction of concurrent seasonal adjustment.


For further information on these changes, refer to paragraphs 17 to 23 of Explanatory Notes or Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics (cat. no. 6292.0), released on 16 December 2003.



CAI IMPLEMENTATION

In October 2003, the ABS began the progressive implementation of computer assisted interviewing (CAI) into the LFS. Under CAI, interviewers record responses directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a laptop computer.


For October, November and December 2003, the CAI method was used on a random 10% sub-sample of survey interviews. The remaining 90% of interviews each month 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 each month's 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 any month.



Inquiries

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Craig Blair on Canberra (02) 6252 6525.



Forthcoming changes


PROGRESSIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF CAI

In February 2004, the ABS will increase the sub-sample of survey interviews conducted using the CAI method from 10% to 40%. Subject to further analysis continuing to confirm that the change in method is not having a significant impact on survey estimates, the ABS intends to increase the use of CAI 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.



REVISIONS TO UNIT RECORD DATA

The ABS will also be introducing a number of changes to labour force statistics with the release of February 2004 LFS data. These changes involve revisions to detailed original data at the unit record level which will flow through to published aggregated data.


The changes which will impact upon this publication and associated electronic products are detailed below. Further information on all the changes is available in Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics (cat.no.6292.0), released on 16 December 2003. This information paper is available free from the ABS web site .


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.


DEFINITIONAL CHANGE

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.



EMPLOYED PERSONS

The trend estimate of employed persons generally rose from a low of 7,637,500 in December 1992 to 9,132,700 in September 2000. The trend estimate then fell slightly to 9,108,100 in January 2001, before rising to 9,535,300 in March 2003. The trend estimate then fell for three months, before rising to stand at 9,653,000 in December 2003.

Graph - Employed persons



UNEMPLOYED PERSONS

The trend estimate of unemployed persons fell rapidly from 920,700 in September 1993 to 728,100 in July 1995. The trend estimate then rose to 771,500 in February 1997, before falling to 592,300 in September 2000. After rising to 678,100 in October 2001, the trend estimate has generally fallen to stand at 570,300 in December 2003.

Graph - Unemployed persons



UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

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 December 2003.

Graph - Unemployment rate

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