IDI Household Labour Force Survey data (HLFS)



IDI Household Labour Force Survey data (HLFS)

Alternate Title



The Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) data includes the Data, Household Address, NZIS, and Relationship tables, that Stats NZ provides to Stats NZ to use in the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI). The HLFS datasets contain survey data collected from 2006 to (ongoing) for a portrayal of New Zealand’s labour force, using representative sample of 15,000 households and about 30,000 individuals throughout New Zealand. HLFS looks at employment, unemployment, and people not in the labour force. The primary purpose of the survey is to estimate the number of people employed, unemployed, and not in the labour force (NILF), and from them, the unemployment rate for the New Zealand labour market. The Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) is designed to produce statistics at the family level, and use of the survey for a purpose for which it was not designed is inevitably subject to some limitations.


The Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) provides a regular, timely, and comprehensive portrayal of New Zealand's labour force. Each quarter, the HLFS produces a range of statistics relating to employment, unemployment, and people not in the labour force. HLFS results are based on a representative sample of 15,000 households and about 30,000 individuals throughout New Zealand.


The dictionary also provides encyclopaedic information on concepts, policies, and other high-level information relevant to this dataset. Use this data dictionary if you are interested in understanding and accessing HLFS data in the IDI for your research. This dictionary gives information on the variables contained in the dataset available since 2006 – including technical information and descriptions. Use this data dictionary if you are interested in understanding and accessing the HLFS dataset in the IDI for your research.

Usage and limitations of the data

Examples of possible uses include:

  • targeting employment or training schemes (e.g. what ages, regions, ethnic groups are more likely to have unemployed people?)
  • to indicate employment growth or decline in particular industry or occupation groups.
  • to help in modelling the labour market or the economy in general, and make predictions about future levels of employment and unemployment.
  • as an indicator of the state of the economy (e.g. increasing or decreasing unemployment rates).

Limitations: Main limitations are the high sampling errors associated with small estimates - this makes many of the smaller estimates unreliable or unusable.

Also, the HLFS does not measure the quality of people’s jobs, e.g. utilisation of skills, how much they are paid (except in June quarters), whether they get sick leave, etc.

There are also sometimes complaints about the definitions used in the HLFS (i.e. to be counted as employed you only have to have worked for one hour or more in a week, or you can even work unpaid in a family business. And to be unemployed you have to be available to start a job and be actively seeking work - not just looking at job advertisements).

Significant events impacting this study series

Dec. 2007: HLFS published new ethnicity data using the single combination method and total response outputs. This will be a complete break in the ethnicity series, as the prioritisation of ethnic groups will no longer be produced. These series started from December quarter 2007 onwards. Mar 2009: Māori benchmarks introduced into the HLFS. Sep 2009: First publication of the new industry (ANZSIC 2006) and occupation (ANZSCO) classifications. The ANZSIC 1996 and NZSCO classifications are still available until December 2011 quarter. Jun 2011: Auckland supercity introduced and back-cast for Mar11. May 2013: Person variable in tblimpps sometimes contains information on when a person had begun a survey and then stopped because they were not eligible. These records are now deleted from the tblimpps dataset. Changes were made in qualification questions. Mar 2015: Revised historical HLFS data following the 2013 Census of population and dwellings. Due to the introduction of regional population benchmarks, historical data is revised back to the beginning of the survey (March 1986)


3 Quarterly

Main users of the data

People who monitor the labour market either in itself or as part of macroeconomic analysis of the economy. For example, government departments (e.g. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment , Work and Income New Zealand, Treasury, and Te Puni Kokiri), private research companies (e.g. NZIER), banks (e.g. ANZ), and international agencies (e.g. ILO, OECD).



Income and Work
Income, Household, Labour
December2006 -

Appears Within

No references.



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23 30/11/2021 4:08:15 PM