National Indigenous Reform Agreement: P21b-Employment to population ratio, for the working age population (15-64 years) (Survey Data), 2010 QS

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Quality Statement
METeOR identifier:396310
Registration status:Community Services (retired), Superseded 04/04/2011

Relational attributes

Indicators linked to this Quality statement:

National Indigenous Reform Agreement: P21b-Employment to population ratio, for the working age population (15-64 years) (Survey Data), 2010 Community Services (retired), Superseded 04/04/2011

Data quality

Institutional environment:These surveys are conducted under the Census and Statistics Act 1905. For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, see the ABS Institutional Environment.
Timeliness:The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) is conducted every six years. The 2008 survey was conducted from August to April 2009. Results were released in Oct 2009. The Survey of Education and Work (SEW) is conducted annually in May as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). Results from the 2008 survey were released in Nov 2008.
Accessibility:See National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 (4714.0) and Education and Work, Australia (6227.0). This measure is released as part of a SEW Detailed Education Data cube. Specialised data tables and Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs) are also available on request.
Interpretability:Information on how to interpret and use the data appropriately is available from the 2008 NATSISS User’s Guide (4720.0) – due for release in 2010 – and Education and Work Australia (6227.0).

The NATSISS and SEW collect information on labour force participation. While Indigenous status is collected in the SEW, the survey sample and methodology are not designed to provide output that separately identifies Indigenous people. The SEW can, however, be used for providing non-Indigenous comparisons.

In the SEW, information may have been supplied by one household resident on behalf of another person. The person reporting may not know all details of the participation of the other in employment. In the NATSISS and SEW answers to some questions were not supplied. Hence, judgement may be required in classifying people for this measure.


The NATSISS is conducted in all states and territories and includes remote and non-remote areas. The 2008 sample was 13,300 persons/6900 households, with a response rate of 82 per cent of households.

In the 2008 NATSISS there was a relatively large level of undercoverage when compared to other ABS surveys. As a consequence, the analysis undertaken to ensure that results from the survey were consistent with other data sources was more extensive than usual. Potential bias due to undercoverage was addressed by the application of a number of adjustments to the initial weights and an adjustment to geographical areas based on the density of the Indigenous population. As undercoverage can result in variances across population characteristics, as well as across data items, caution should be exercised when interpreting the survey results. For more information see the 2008 NATSISS Quality Declaration.

The SEW is conducted in all states and territories excluding very remote areas. This exclusion has a small impact only on national and state estimates, except for the Northern Territory, where such persons comprise over 20 per cent of the population. From 2009 the SEW includes remote areas but excludes discrete Indigenous communities. As a consequence of this exclusion, comparisons between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in remote areas are not available. The response rate for the SEW was 96 per cent in 2008.

The NATSISS and SEW are weighted to account for non-response. Since it is derived from sample surveys, this indicator is subject to sampling error which occurs because only a small proportion of the population isused to produce estimates that represent the whole population. Sampling error can be reliably estimated and is based on the statistical methods used to design surveys.

Overall, this indicator has a relative standard error (RSE) of less than 25 per cent for all states and territories. Finer levels of disaggregation (e.g. by the inclusion of other cross classifying variables) may result in higher levels of sampling error.


The data items used to construct labour force status measures in the Census, NATSISS and LFS/SEW have the same conceptual basis and have the capacity to support assessment of change over time. Nevertheless, there are a range of differences between the scope, coverage, timing and collection methodologies of the collections which may affect their consistency. See Census quality statement: Labour Force Status.

Census includes the category of “employed, away from work” while the SEW and NATSISS do not use this category. Instead, persons away from work are categorised as either employed full time or part time based on usual hours worked.

In addition, treatment of ‘Not Stated’ responses should be considered when comparing surveys with the Census.

The SEW and NATSISS have different enumeration periods and therefore differences in this indicator for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people may reflect changes in the economic cycle.

Currently, the Census, LFS/SEW and NATSISS consider people who participate in Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) as employed. All CDEP participants are in scope of these collections, but only the NATSISS identifies CDEP participation as a separate category of employment for the total Indigenous population. Census includes the category of CDEP participation for respondents who completed the interviewer-assisted form, primarily used in remote communities. The LFS/SEW does not include CDEP participation as a separate category of employment.

Possible future changes to the classification of CDEP participation to reflect changes in program administration would have a considerable impact on the labour force characteristics of the Indigenous population. For further information on CDEP see the Census quality statement for this indicator.

Relational attributes

Related metadata references:

See also National Indigenous Reform Agreement: PI 14a-Level of workforce participation (Census data), 2013 QS Indigenous, Archived 25/06/2014