Big employment data revisions ahead?

By Shamubeel Eaqub 11/12/2013

The Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) data has been volatile recently. It is survey based and is usually benchmarked to Census data. Sampling is also affected by Census results. The latest Census data suggest some big revisions ahead for many of the published HLFS indicators, including employment.


Intercensal employment growth (compounding rate) in the Census and HLFS aren’t the same, but the difference looks awfully big this time around (perhaps because the Census was delayed by two years due to the Christchurch earthquakes).

A rough and ready ‘taper’ to make the HLFS and Census consistent could mean that the level of employment looks very different after revisions next year. The regional estimates will also change considerably.



I am reiterating from yesterday, but comprehensive data  from the Census give us a better understanding of the economy and rebase surveys and other measures to reduce errors. Any attempts to discontinue the Census should carefully consider the many costs of not doing it.

0 Responses to “Big employment data revisions ahead?”

  • This whole statistical measurement of unemployment raises many questions. What is “unemployment”, “underemployment”, and what is “employment”, please. There are considerations and I would like to get a clearer picture. According to WiNZ a person working 15 hours or more may be considered as “employed”, but in some cases still be entitled to some benefit support. The HLFS seems to apply a more simplistic rule, asking people simply, whether they are working or not. Do they actually ask for minimum hours worked, money earned and the likes? I once had a temporary job with Statistics NZ, but I lost track with what they do exactly ask.

    Being “employed” does certainly not mean you have an income that can support your living, even in NZ. So what about sharing some info on how many people work how many hours, how much they earn, how many still need how much in welfare top-ups and the likes.

    I dread to see the results, as my suspicion is, and I hear enough anecdotal evidence, that “employment” is not as great as the government wishes to make us believe. Many cannot survive on temporary work they may have, they may only survive with benefit support on top, or by having partners, flatmates, friends, family and so support them in whatever ways, even if it is just shared accommodation.

    I feel we do not get the whole truth is this area of statistics!