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2021 Census – second release data out now

2021 Census – second release data out now

The ABS have released their second tranche of data from the 2021 Census. Glenn walks us through what’s in the second-release datasets, and the national stories they tell us.


The 2021 Census second-release datasets are now available from the ABS. About 75% of all Census topics are released in first release, which was in June of this year. These have been loaded into the .id community profile and social atlas tools. We now have the second release data and are processing this for release into the economic profile, community profile and social atlas tools.

What’s included in the second release of 2021 Census data and where can I see it?

The second release of Census data contains additional topics that require a bit more processing by the ABS. This includes primarily data relating to employment (eg. what industries people work in, where they work and how they get there), and also qualification-related information and internal population movement within Australia. These are a smaller but important part of the .id community profiles, but make up the bulk of datasets from the Census in economy.id.

The great news is that the first datasets based on second release are already available in economy.id. This includes information on total employment and industry breakdown from the Census.

The rest will be updated over the upcoming weeks and months, along with the community profile and atlas tools. By December, this will leave just the SEIFA indexes to be updated. These require even more analysis and aren’t scheduled for release until March 2023.

What are the national stories coming out of the second release?

The second release doesn’t lend itself as much to headlines as the first release, but a few interesting national characteristics are now out:

  • Unemployment Nationally, the Census recorded 646,442 people as unemployed; this represented an unemployment rate of 5.1%, down from 6.9% in 2016, and the lowest unemployment recorded since the 1970s.
  • Industries Health Care and Social Assistance is by far Australia’s largest industry, with 1,751,717 people (14.5% of all the workforce) working in this sector, up from 12.6% (up by 400,000 people) since 2016.
  • Education The proportion of people with university degrees continues to grow. Bachelor Degree or above qualifications now account for almost 5.5 million people, or 26.3% of all people over the age of 15. This is up from 22.0% in 2016.
  • Working from home The pandemic had an impact in several ways. The most eagerly awaited statistic is about working from home. We’ll get into the detail in an upcoming blog. but the headline is that 21% of all employed people in Australia worked at home on Census day 2021, almost 5 times the number in 2016, when those working from home made up just 4.7% of workers. This varied a lot across the country due to varying lockdowns, making it hard to work out a level of “long-term” work from home. In NSW 31% and Victoria 26% worked from home, but just 8% in WA (still double the previous Census though).
  • Lockdowns and employment The lockdowns also affected the proportion of people who were employed but temporarily not working (zero hours in the week prior to Census). In total, 6.5% of workers Australia-wide worked zero hours. The biggest impact was in Arts and Recreation Services where 15.3% were not working in part due to lockdowns.

The data are now available right through to local levels, and each place has a story to tell. We’ll be updating all the second release topics over the coming weeks and months. So you don’t miss your local story, be sure to sign up to our product updates mailing list – they’re coming out weekly at the moment. If you have any more queries about the new Census data, contact us via email demographics@id.com.au.

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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