Place of Work (POWP)

This variable records the geographic area in which a person worked in the week before Census Night. Place of Work (POWP) is a hierarchical classification, ranging from the broadest geographic level (Australia), to the finest level (Destination Zone). The categories in this variable have changed to reflect the new Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) used for the 2011 Census. For more information refer to the 2011 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0). Data is also available for Local Government Areas (LGAs) to assist with time series comparison.

This question was first asked in the 1971 Census. Further information on Census Topics 1911-2011, can be found in How Australia Takes a Census (cat. no. 2903.0).

The non-response rate for POWP was 2.5% in 2011 (4.9% in 2006). Unlike some other Census variables the non-response rate is not affected by persons imputed into dwellings that did not return a Census Form, as POWP is only applicable for persons with a labour force status of employed. For 2011, where a respondent provided a response to the 'Business name' question but not the 'Workplace address' question, this was not considered to be 'non-response', though in some circumstances it was likely to have been coded as such in 2006. This may lead to a decrease in the non-response rate, but a corresponding increase in the 'state undefined' category. More information is available from the 2011 Census non-response quality statement.

POWP is determined from written responses to the 'Business name' and 'Workplace address' questions, and is coded to units of geography known as Destination Zones (DZNs). DZNs are defined by the relevant State Transport Authority (STAs) from each state or territory (i.e. Department of Transport), in conjunction with the ABS. DZNs are aggregates of Mesh Blocks (though data is not coded to the Mesh Block level), and Mesh Blocks aggregate to Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2s).

DZNs are not necessarily comparable across Censuses, particularly as the specifications for their design differed between 2006 and 2011 (in 2006, DZNs aggregated to SLAs rather than SA2s, and there was no requirement for them to aggregate to the Mesh Block level).

While data for LGAs is available for both 2006 and 2011, there may have been changes to LGA boundaries between 2006 and 2011 which need to be taken into account. More information is available in the Australian Standard Geographical Classification, July 2011 (cat. no. 1216.0).

If a particular response cannot be coded to a DZN, it will be coded to the SA2 level. If it cannot be coded to the SA2 level, it will be assigned to a "capital city undefined" category, or a "state undefined" category.

In 2011, coding indexes were supplied by the ABS based on indexes used for other geographic topics in the Census, supplemented with other information from the STAs (such as lists of businesses and properties). This was a different approach to previous Censuses, where the coding indexes were wholly supplied by the STAs.

A considerable amount of effort from both the ABS and the STAs was spent in validating subsequent data. This should result in generally improved quality of POWP data, though there may be some differences between 2006 and 2011 caused by the different coding indexes used. In particular, there may be differences around how partial responses were coded and therefore an increase in the number of responses in the 'state undefined' and 'capital city undefined' categories. There may also be an increase in these categories as there are more SA2s than there were SLAs. SA2s tend to be smaller, and consequently more addresses may be unable to be coded at that level of precision.

The proportion of records coded to these categories was 5.8% in 2011 compared with 1.1% in 2006.

When used in conjunction with Method of Travel to Work (MTWP) data, users should be aware that POWP refers to the main job held last week, while MTWP refers to Census Day. This may explain why, for a small proportion of records, MTWP may appear inconsistent with POWP or Place of Usual Residence (PURP) information.

More information on POWP can be found in the 2011 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0).

Back to Person classification