The key objectives for the Labour Statistics Program are to address labour statistics priorities and be responsive to user needs by producing high quality labour statistics in a timely, efficient and effective manner. The program provides information about the structure and performance of the labour market, including statistics on labour supply (such as labour force participation, employment, hours worked, unemployment and labour underutilisation); labour demand (job vacancies); employment conditions and working arrangements; employee earnings and labour costs; and workplace relations.
Labour statistics are used extensively in the analysis, evaluation, and monitoring of the economy; the labour market; and a wide range of government policies and programs (such as those relating to employment, income support, workplace relations). Statistics on labour costs are also used in compiling the Australian National Accounts.
The main clients of the program are Australian government agencies (including the Treasury, the Reserve Bank of Australia, Fair Work Australia, the Productivity Commission, the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the Departments of: Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; and Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs), State and Territory government agencies, industry associations, trade unions and academic researchers.
Statistics on labour force participation, employment, unemployment and hours worked are published monthly in Labour Force, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6202.0). More detailed labour force information is released either monthly (ABS cat. no. 6291.0.55.001) or quarterly (ABS cat. no. 6291.0.55.003). Broad measures of labour underutilisation are available quarterly in the main Labour Force Survey release. Statistics on particular aspects of the Australian labour market, including earnings, working arrangements, forms of employment, trade union membership, labour mobility, underemployment, job search experience, independent contracting, labour hire, retirement, barriers and incentives to labour force participation, and marginal attachment to the labour force, are published periodically.
The program produces regular statistics on earnings and labour costs. Statistics on average weekly earnings of employees had been published quarterly in Average Weekly Earnings, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6302.0). However, the frequency of the average weekly earnings series will change from quarterly to biannual in 2012. The May 2012 publication will be the last quarterly issue (released in August 2012), with the November 2012 publication the first produced on a biannual basis (released in February 2013). Distributional data on employee earnings and hours, data on occupational earnings, and data on award and agreement coverage are available every two years in Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6306.0). Data on details of major labour costs are also available. Information on the number of employees and total employee earnings for the public sector are available annually.
Statistics on job vacancies are published quarterly in Job Vacancies, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6354.0). Data on industrial disputes are also published quarterly in Industrial Disputes, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6321.0.55.001).
The publication Australian Labour Market Statistics (ABS cat. no. 6105.0) is changing frequency in 2012 from quarterly to irregular. With this change the content will be reduced to just support the release of analytical data series, such as volume measures of labour underutilisation, and allow the release of feature articles on current labour market issues. Information about news and developments in ABS labour statistics, previously contained in this publication, will be available via the ABS website at the Labour Topics @ a glance page.
The main medium-term developments in the program are to:
- develop a longitudinal Labour Force Survey dataset – release of microdata by June 2012
- develop, select and implement a new sample for the Monthly Population Survey, including incorporating the new Australian Statistical Geography Standard – progressively implemented November 2012 to June 2013
- implement new population benchmarks for the Labour Force Survey and make historical revisions to series, based on revised population estimates following the 2011 Census – by August 2013
- implement the recommendations from a review of the content of the labour household survey program – progressive implementation to February 2014
- conceptual framework development for a number of areas of labour market statistics including workplace relations, non-standard working arrangements and marginal attachment – by December 2014
- improve analytical content in labour program standard products, where appropriate – ongoing
- implement collection, quality assurance and output efficiencies into the labour statistics collections – ongoing.