Thursday, December 12, 2019

Labour Force and Commuting for Work Question


I’m helping a researcher sort out some travel to work data for the CSD of Houston, BC. From this table: looking at Houston (DM) we get a labour force of 1065 living in Houston, but the census profile of Houston (DM) gives a labour force size of 1615, and it seems to both of us the difference between the two seems much too large to be due to suppression and random rounding. I’m wondering if there is documentation I’m just missing that would account for this difference?


On the first table, your client has given the “universe” or population captured, is people who are employed in the labour force aged 15 years and over who have a usual place of residence. Whereas, in the second table your client is looking at a universe that we would title persons in the labour force aged 15 years and over. We can find this information from looking at either the table title or the profile section title.

Here is a little explanation on why this population is so different from the total labour force that you see on the second table.

Seeing as this table is a commuting flow chart, respondents must have a usual place of work which limits the number of respondents that you see. This helps with the accuracy of the table as those with a flexible work environment are not always commuting to the same place. This table is also only showing those who are employed in the labour force. From reading this definition of both labour force and labour force status we see that those counted in the labour force may have been unemployed during the reference period which would also mean that they would not have an eligible destination to use in the commuting flow chart.

After seeing these differences I would recommend that your client look at journey to work sections of the profile for comparability instead of the labour force sections. You can find this by selecting “Journey to work” using the “Topic” toggle bar at the top of the profile.

One last consideration with this flow chart is that suppression rules do apply to protect the privacy of Canadians. Random rounding has of course been used on all of these tables however as well, there may be some respondents living in Houston ,BC who have a very unique commuting destination. The six possible commuting destinations listed on the first table may therefore not be exhaustive, which would account for the sum of these 6 answers not adding up to exactly the same total as the journey to work universe.