Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH)
Detailed information for December 2008
The Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours is Canada's only source of detailed information on the total number of paid employees, payrolls, hours at detailed industrial, provincial and territorial levels.
Data release - February 26, 2009
The Survey of Employment Earnings and Hours is produced from the combination of the Business Payroll Survey results and the payroll deductions administrative data received from Canada Revenue Agency.
The Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours is Canada's only source of detailed information on the total number of paid employees, payrolls, hours at detailed industrial, provincial and territorial levels. In addition to providing the principal input to Labour Income estimates, it also serves as a proxy output measure for about 15% of Real and Gross Domestic Product. The data are also used by the private sector for contract escalation and wage rate determination, by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to revise the maximum pensionable earnings and retirement savings plan contribution limits.
Together, three monthly surveys tell a more complete story of current labour market events. These surveys are: the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) and the Employment Insurance Statistics (EIS). The LFS focuses on its strengths: timeliness and demographic analysis of the labour market. SEPH reports, which come out later each month, show greater detail on industry and wages. The EIS provide substantial detail by geography.
- Employment and unemployment
- Hours of work and work arrangements
- Wages, salaries and other earnings
Data sources and methodology
The program's target population is composed of all businesses in Canada that have at least one employee and, thus issued at least one payroll deduction remittance during the reference month. Excluded are businesses that are primarily involved in agriculture, fishing and trapping, private household services, religious organizations, international and other extraterritorial public administration and military personnel of defence services.
This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.
Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore, no sampling is done.
Responding to this survey is mandatory.
Data are collected directly from survey respondents, extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.
The statistics compiled by SEPH are based on a census of administrative records for all in-scope establishments with employees that can be found on the Business Register. The total payroll employment estimates and the monthly payrolls are derived from the administrative source. Administrative information for total gross monthly payrolls and the total number of employees for the last pay period in the month are obtained from payroll deduction (PD) accounts maintained by Canada Revenue Agency. Public Institutions Division of Statistics Canada provides information for general government services at the provincial and federal levels.
To estimate SEPH variables not available from the administrative source, the results of the Business Payrolls Survey (BPS) conducted monthly are used. The BPS uses a stratified simple random sample of 11,000 establishments out of a population of 900,000 establishments taken from the Business Register. A one-twelfth rotation of the sample is done every month. The Business Payrolls Survey uses a combination of methods for data collection to permit maximum flexibility for the respondent. For mail units, questionnaires are mailed to the payroll office of employers each month. Computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) are used for respondents who express a preference for being surveyed by telephone. Respondents can also report their data electronically. Reporting units, which are non-respondents to the initial mailing, are followed up by telephone by the staff of the regional offices of Statistics Canada.
The estimates derived from the administrative source are then combined with the results of the BPS to produce estimates for the full range of SEPH variables.
View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).
For the administrative portion of the survey, edits and verification procedures at the data capture stage ensure that the data is of the best quality possible. Significant and unusual monthly movements at the micro level are identified using the Hidiroglou-Berthelot method, and are manually corrected, if appropriate.
Both manual and automated editing procedures are employed to detect and correct problematic data provided by the respondent on the BPS questionnaire. Historical edits (weighted and unweighted) are performed at the data collection stage.
Administrative portion of the survey: there are four methods of imputation:
1) imputing zero when the Canada Revenue Agency has been advised that there will be no employees in the month;
2) imputing from previous month information with a month-to-month change ratio (trend imputation) where there are indications that the units have activity in the current month;
3) imputing using other available variables (ratio imputation) and,
4) imputing based on current month stratum averages (mean imputation) in some cases where only one value has been reported.
Business Payrolls Survey: missing take-all establishments are imputed using the previous month's reports. In this way, respondent follow up is avoided while making use of as much data provided by the respondent as possible.
The total payroll employment estimates and the monthly payrolls are derived from the CRA Payroll Deduction administrative (PD) source.
Because not all SEPH variables are available from the PD remittance forms, a small survey, the Business Payrolls Survey (BPS) is conducted each month to collect the additional information required.
The information obtained from the BPS is used to estimate the weekly component of the gross monthly payrolls, the total number of paid hours (regular hours and overtime) and the allocation of hours, earnings and employment for three categories of employees (salaried, paid by the hour and others such as commission workers.)
Estimation of the additional SEPH variables is done at the model group level, most of which are defined at the national and sub-sector levels except for a few cases where the employment size and the provincial dimensions are used. Regression coefficients calculated at the model group level are applied to the estimates of total employment and payrolls from the administrative sources to estimate the additional variables.
Coefficients of variation are analyzed every month to identify the domains having the least accurate estimates. Sampling fractions are adjusted occasionally in order to obtain comparable CVs across domains.
A micro-match is performed every month to compare the BPS data to the administrative source data (employment and payroll). Largest differences are looked at and corrected if necessary.
Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.
Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data. The G-CONFID software is used to control disclosure of the data.
The results of the SEPH are reviewed using the appropriate security measures complying with the Statistics Act to assure the safeguarding of the respondent's information and to ensure that no enterprise may be identified through the release of the SEPH estimates.
Revisions and seasonal adjustment
Each month, SEPH releases statistics for the two latest reference months. They represent "preliminary" estimates for the current month and the "revised" estimates for the previous month. On a monthly basis, the preliminary data will be revised in the following month. On an annual basis seasonally adjusted data will be revised back and released with the December revised reference month. From time to time, a historical revision is necessary for changes related to new data sources and revised industry classifications and frame changes.
For the administrative portion of the survey, response rates based on employment are produced and published every month for Canada, the provinces and the territories by type of payroll deduction accounts for the preliminary and final estimates (see Annex 2 of Statistics Canada catalogue number 72-002-XIB). The total response rate for Canada as a whole usually varies between 80% and 90%.
Every month, coefficients of variation (CV) are published for all variables and every domain (by NAICS industry for Canada, the provinces and the territories). These CVs take into account the sampling variance coming from the BPS as well as the variance due to imputation of the administrative source.