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Household Labour Force Survey – information for participants

Why are you carrying out this survey?

We carry out the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) so we can produce New Zealand’s official measure of employment. The HLFS is a nationwide survey, which provides the only comprehensive, ongoing measure of New Zealand’s labour force.

It measures:

  • the number of employed persons
  • the number of unemployed persons
  • the number of persons not in the labour force
  • hours worked
  • occupation and industry activity
  • duration of unemployment
  • steps taken to find work
  • steps taken to find more hours of work
  • the number of people engaged in formal study
  • income earned from jobs (asked once a year)
  • income received from the government (asked once a year). 

Data collected in the survey is cross-tabulated by demographic factors:

  • age group
  • sex
  • marital status
  • locality
  • ethnic origin.

Who takes part in the survey? How did you select me?

Sixteen thousand (16,000) households take part in this survey. To select you as one of the 16,000 households, we use a fair statistical method where every household in our country has a known chance of being selected. You were selected because you meet the criteria of being 15 years old or older and living in the selected New Zealand household.

How long will I be in the survey for?

If you are selected to participate in HLFS, you will be in the survey for two years.

Interviews for selected households take place every three months, for a total of eight interviews in two years.
If your household moves away from this address, we will not contact you at your new address. You will be replaced by new occupants of the selected address.

When do you carry out the survey?

We carry out the survey every two years. During the two-year survey period, we interview selected households once every three months.

How can I complete the survey questionnaire?

You’ll be interviewed by one of our field staff, who will fill in the survey questionnaire with the answers you give. The first interview is face-to-face, by an interviewer using a laptop. Subsequent interviews are by telephone.

Before telephoning you, your interviewer will give you a magnetic card with a contact phone number and a nine-digit reference number. Your interviewer will quote this reference number before each telephone interview to help prove who they are.

How long is the interview?

The average interview time per household is 20 to 40 minutes, depending on whether supplementary questions are asked. Retired people aged 65 years and over are given a shortened questionnaire.


Page updated 18 April 2016

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