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Contents >> Statistical Collections >> Labour Force >> Labour Force Survey

Labour Force Survey


Labour Force Survey Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Telephone (02) 6252 6525


The monthly Labour Force Survey 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 Labour Force Survey 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.

Reference Period

The week prior to interview.

Frequency of Collection


Method of Collection

The Labour Force Survey is based on a multi-stage area sample of private dwellings (currently about 30,000 houses, flats, etc.) and a list sample of non-private dwellings (hotels, motels, etc.), and covers about 0.45% 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 progressively implemented from October 2003 to August 2004, replacing the 'pencil and paper' questionnaire method previously used.

Households selected for the Labour Force Survey 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).


Release schedule

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey 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) (previously published as Labour Force, Australia, Preliminary (cat. no. 6202.0), until March 2003.
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)

Other information

Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics (ABS cat. no. 6292.0) describes an improved method of estimation, 'composite estimation', for the Labour Force Survey (LFS). It 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 (ABS cat. no. 6202.0). 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 will have an impact on all LFS statistical releases (publications, spreadsheets, and data cubes).


Data are available for Australia, and each State and Territory.

Data service

Customised reports, in a variety of formats, are available from the ABS upon request.

Time series data corresponding to the tables contained in Labour Force, Australia (ABS cat. no. 6202.0), are available in the product set Labour Force, Australia, Spreadsheets (ABS cat. no. 6202.0.55.001)


State or territory of usual residence
Area of usual residence
Region of usual residence
Marital status
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

Historical Data

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.

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