Census Crystal Ball Gazing – so how did I do? Part 2

Census Crystal Ball Gazing – so how did I do? Part 2

While the 2016 Census was still in the field, I made 12 predictions for the Census results.

I do this every Census, as working with councils around Australia, I get a feel for some of the likely changes. They are in the form of psychic-style predictions, but hopefully a bit more accurate as these are based on solid knowledge of what’s going on around the country.

With the first release of Census data in June, I was able to test nine of these predictions, and came up with 5 hits, 2 partial hits (where I got the direction of change but not the exact number), and 2 misses.

There were also 3 which were unknown at the time, as they relied on 2nd release Census data. 2nd release is now out, so I can test the remaining 3 predictions.

8. Australia’s largest industry

My prediction

Following changes in the past 3 Censuses, Health Care and Social Assistance will remain as Australia’s number 1 employing industry in 2016, employing more than 1.4 million people. Manufacturing (which was the largest employer in 2001 and earlier) will drop back further to 880,000 people.

Result: HIT

As predicted, Health Care and Social Assistance is the largest employer in Australia, by a large margin too.

I was very close to the final number, which ended up being 1.351 million (but with Not Stated rising by almost a quarter of a million, it’s almost certain that the adjusted number would be over the 1.4 million predicted).

And Manufacturing fell, even further than predicted, down to 683,000 people. It’s hard to believe that as recently as 2001, Manufacturing was the largest industry in Australia, and it now has only half the number of people employed as Health Care.

9. Higher education

My prediction

We continue to become more educated. The proportion of Australians with a Bachelor Degree qualification will top 1 in 5 for the first time, reaching 21.5% in 2016.

Result: HIT

The sum of Postgraduate and Graduate level qualifications in the 2016 Census was 4,181,406 people.  Up by over 800,000 from 2011. This equates to 21.9% of the population aged over 15, so I nailed this one, only out by 0.4%. As university education becomes the norm for younger people, this figure reaches 35% for those aged 25-34.

12. The impact of the Rio Olympics

My prediction

The number of people with “Sportspersons” and “Sports Coaches” occupations, and “Instructors and Officials” will drop by about 5% and 2% respectively. This is due to the number of athletes and support staff at the Rio Olympics, which covered the Census period. In 2011 there were 7,862 Sportspersons and 28,825 Coaches and Officials in Australia. So the few hundred at the Olympics will have a small impact which may be offset by population growth. The Olympics coincides with Census every 20 years.

Result: MISS

Sportspersons rose from 7,862 to 8,850, an increase of almost 1,000, while “Coaches, Instructors and Officials” rose from 28,825 to 38,021, an increase of over 9,000.

So the Rio Olympics appears to have had no effect.  While there are about 12% more professional athletes, the number of coaches and officials has increased by over 30%. So we have a lot more people administering and coaching each athlete than we did before!

My Scorecard

So, overall, with the first and second release tally, I got 7 hits, 2 partial hits and 3 misses, from my 12 predictions.

This is just a bit of fun, but it does underline the fact that we already know a lot about our communities, and often Census data can serve to reinforce what we already know, or perhaps dispell some myths.

The community profile resource is designed to let you do this same exercise, in your community, at the local level.

We now have 1st release fully updated in the community profiles, and recently added the first part of the second release data, the Journey to Work dataset.

Out very soon are the Employment, Industry, Occupation and Qualifications datasets in community profile, as well as employment locations and worker profiles in the economic profile tool.


.id is a team of demographers, urban economists, spatial planners and Census data experts who use a unique combination of online tools and consulting to help governments and organisations plan for the future. Access our free demographic resources here.

Glenn - The Census Expert

Glenn is our resident Census expert. After ten years working at the ABS, Glenn's deep knowledge of the Census has been a crucial input in the development of our community profiles. These tools help everyday people uncover the rich and important stories about our communities that are often hidden deep in the Census data. Glenn is also our most prolific blogger - if you're reading this, you've just finished reading one of his blogs. Take a quick look at the front page of our blog and you'll no doubt find more of Glenn's latest work. As a client manager, Glenn travels the country giving sought-after briefings to councils and communities (these are also great opportunities for Glenn to tend to his rankings in Geolocation games such as Munzee and Geocaching).

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