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Section 5: Data collection

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Interviewing for the LFS

Data collection for the LFS is carried out each month during the week following the LFS reference week. The reference week is normally the week containing the 15th day of the month.

Statistics Canada interviewers are employees hired and trained to carry out the LFS and other household surveys. Each month they contact the sampled dwellings to obtain the required labour force information.

LFS interviews are conducted by telephone by interviewers working out of a regional office CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews) site or by personal visit from a field interviewer. Since 2004, dwellings new to the sample in urban areas are contacted by telephone if the telephone number is available from administrative files, otherwise the dwelling is contacted by a field interviewer. The interviewer first obtains socio-demographic information for each household member and then obtains labour force information for all members aged 15 and over who are not members of the regular armed forces. The majority of subsequent interviews are conducted by telephone. In subsequent monthly interviews the interviewer confirms the socio-demographic information collected in the first month and collects the labour force information for the current month.

In each dwelling, information about all household members is usually obtained from one knowledgeable household member. Such ‘proxy’ reporting, which accounts for approximately 65% of the information collected, is used to avoid the high cost and extended time requirements that would be involved in repeat visits or calls necessary to obtain information directly from each respondent.

If, during the course of the six months that a dwelling normally remains in the sample, an entire household moves out and is replaced by a new household, information is obtained about the new household for the remainder of the six-month period.

Supervision and quality control

All LFS interviewers are under the supervision of a staff of senior interviewers who are responsible for ensuring that interviewers are familiar with the concepts and procedures of the LFS and its many supplementary surveys, and also for periodically monitoring their interviewers. The senior interviewers are, in turn, under the supervision of the LFS program managers.

Non-response to the LFS

Non-response to the LFS tends to average about 10% of eligible households. Interviewers are instructed to make all reasonable attempts to obtain LFS interviews with members of eligible households. For individuals who at first refuse to participate in the LFS, a letter is sent from the Regional Office to the dwelling address stressing the importance of the survey and the household’s co-operation. This is followed by a second call (or visit) from the interviewer. For cases in which the timing of the interviewer’s call (or visit) is inconvenient, an appointment is arranged to call back at a more convenient time. For cases in which there is no one home, numerous call backs are made. Under no circumstances are sampled dwellings replaced by other dwellings for reasons of non-response.

Each month, after all attempts to obtain interviews have been made, a small number of non-responding households remain. For households non-responding to the LFS, a weight adjustment is applied to account for non-responding households.

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