8168.0.55.001 - Microdata: Business Characteristics, Australia, 2009-10 to 2013-14 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/07/2016   
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SURVEY METHODOLOGY


SCOPE AND COVERAGE

The scope of the BLD is restricted to the Australian Tax Office Maintained Population (ATOMP), i.e. businesses with a simple structure. This facilitates the confidentialisation process as larger businesses may be more easily identified. On this basis, the statistical unit for the BLD is the ABN (Australian Business Number) unit, and for the purposes of the BLD, the term business is interchangeable with the ABN unit.

The scope of the BLD is actively trading businesses in the Australian economy. An actively trading business is one which is registered for an ABN and remits Goods and Services Tax (GST). The scope for non-employing businesses has changed for this panel, with the restrictions amended. These changes are reflected in the points below. The scope changed following discussions with users about the best use of the available sample.

The BLD includes both non-employing and employing businesses in the Australian economy except for:

  • large businesses, i.e. with 200 or more employees;
  • complex businesses (those which comprise multiple ABNs);
  • all units classified to Financial corporations (SISCA Sector 2), General Government (SISCA Sector 3), Not-for-profit Institutions Serving Households (SISCA Sector 5) and Rest of the World (SISCA Sector 6);
  • businesses with Income Tax Instalment Payer (ITIP) role only and/or Trusts without an active Income Tax Withholding (ITW) role;
  • non-employing businesses in ANZSIC Divisions L, M, N and S which report less than $100,000 for sales of goods and/or services in their Business Activity Statement (BAS) return annually;
  • non-employing businesses in ANZSIC Divisions B, C, E, F, G, H, I, J and R.
  • businesses classified to the following ANZSIC industries:
    ANZSIC06 Division D Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services
    ANZSIC06 Division K Finance and Insurance Services
    ANZSIC06 Division O Public Administration and Safety
    ANZSIC06 Division P Education and Training
    ANZSIC06 Division Q Health Care and Social Assistance
    ANZSIC06 Division S - Other Services - Group 954 - Religious services
    ANZSIC06 Division S - Other Services - Group 955 - Civic, Professional and Other Interest Groups
    ANZSIC06 Division S - Sub-division 96 Private Households Employing Staff


The businesses that are included in the BLD are classified:

SAMPLE DESIGN

The sample design involves the use of panels that represent the Australian business population at the point in time that each panel is initiated into the BLD. This product relates to panel five of the BLD, which is representative of the in-scope business population as at 30 June 2010. A new panel is normally initiated each year, with no additions to the sample after initial selection.

The sample for each BLD panel is stratified by industry division and business size. Industry is based on ANZSIC 2006 division, and business size is based on the Stratification Derived Employment Size (SDES). Once a business is included in a panel, and irrespective of changes to business size or industry division, the selected business remains in the stratum for which it was originally selected. As employment is collected in the survey, users will be able to observe businesses which have changed size over time.

There are four business size ranges used in the stratification:
  • non-employing businesses (i.e. businesses without an active ITW role);
  • businesses with 0-4 employees;
  • businesses with 5-19 employees;
  • businesses with 20-199 employees.

State/territory is not included in the stratification and no level of geography is available on the BLD CURF.

The intent of the BLD design is to maximise longitudinal, micro level comparisons across the five years during which each panel remains in the BLD. While the sample is stratified on the basis of business size and industry division, the sample is not allocated to enable the creation of population or cross-sectional estimates with any reasonable accuracy. The major consideration in allocating the sample in the current BLD design is ensuring that enough sample is included to facilitate longitudinal analysis, i.e. that sufficient live sample remains in each stratum at the end of five years.

During the development of the BLD, consultation with users determined that the minimum number of businesses considered to be viable for longitudinal analysis was approximately 30 businesses per stratum still live at the end of five years. As part of BLD design, expected death rates for each panel over the five years were calculated for each individual stratum. To achieve the endpoint number of 30 live businesses per stratum, taking attrition rates into consideration, a starting point of 40 businesses per stratum, on average, was required. Therefore, the sample size for the entire BLD is approximately 2,000- 2,500 businesses per panel.


POPULATION COUNTS AND PANEL SAMPLE SIZE

This sample was selected from a survey frame created in June 2010 and includes 2,011 businesses. There were a total of 918,823 businesses eligible for selection. This BLD CURF release contains a completed set of five reference periods of data (2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14).

BLD Panel Five, Business Population Counts (a), Business Employment Size
Non-employing businesses(b)
0-4 persons
5-19 persons
20-199 persons
All business size groups
Industry Division (ANZSIC06)
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
126,137
39,698
12,149
1,912
179,896
Mining
0
1,978
769
257
3,004
Manufacturing
0
28,412
15,582
5,912
49,906
Construction
0
108,698
20,083
4,138
132,919
Wholesale Trade
0
26,738
10,591
3,440
40,769
Retail Trade
0
51,732
24,697
4,915
81,344
Accommodation and Food Services
0
32,300
20,140
5,801
58,241
Transport, Postal and Warehousing
0
33,571
6,057
1,480
41,108
Information Media and Telecommunications
0
5,439
1,288
582
7,309
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services
39,822
23,646
7,827
1,348
72,643
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
28,581
87,807
18,697
3,145
138,230
Administrative and Support Services
7,337
25,325
8,615
3,010
44,287
Arts and Recreation Services
0
6,492
2,201
686
9,379
Other Services
10,262
38,644
9,810
1,072
59,788
Total in-scope population
212,139
510,480
158,506
37,698
918,823

(a) Population count as at 30 June 2010.
(b) Non-employing businesses are those without an active ATO Income Tax Withholding role.

BLD Panel Five, Business Sample Counts (a), Business Employment Size
Non-employing businesses(b)
0-4 persons
5-19 persons
20-199 persons
All business size groups
Industry Division (ANZSIC06)
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
44
43
41
46
174
Mining
0
40
39
51
130
Manufacturing
0
45
41
40
126
Construction
0
41
36
40
117
Wholesale Trade
0
41
37
39
117
Retail Trade
0
47
43
40
130
Accommodation and Food Services
0
56
44
41
141
Transport, Postal and Warehousing
0
43
39
37
119
Information Media and Telecommunications
0
46
41
37
124
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services
50
44
39
44
177
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
51
44
40
42
177
Administrative and Support Services
51
44
38
40
173
Arts and Recreation Services
0
50
41
38
129
Other Services
54
45
40
38
177
Total in-scope sample
250
629
559
573
2,011

(a) Sample count as at 30 June 2010.
(b) Non-employing businesses are those without an active ATO Income Tax Withholding role.


WEIGHTING

In the BLD CURF, weights are based on the stratum (i.e. industry division by business employment size).

Use of the BLD CURF to calculate population or cross-sectional estimates is not recommended as the BLD sample is not designed to enable the creation of such estimates with reasonable accuracy.


DATA SOURCES

The BLD is populated from data directly collected via the ABS Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) and administrative data provided to the ABS for statistical purposes by other government agencies.


Business Characteristics Survey

The BCS is an annual ABS survey that is conducted via an online form or mail-out questionnaire. It is designed to collect characteristics data of small and medium Australian Businesses. It is intended that each year the survey will contain a set of core questions to allow longitudinal analysis.

In developing the BCS instrument, as with all ABS surveys, it has been necessary to achieve an appropriate balance between developing a survey which enables the collection of comprehensive, integrated data with the responsibility of managing the reporting load of businesses.

Most of the items included in the BCS are categorical in nature (i.e. require a yes/no response).

The reference period for the data included in the BCS is the year ended 30 June, or as at 30 June of the relevant year.


Administrative data

Administrative data included in the BLD are:
  • ATO BAS data - Business Activity Statements (BAS) are submitted by businesses in respect of their GST obligations. Activity statements are submitted to the ATO (Australian Tax Office) on either a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, depending on the size and, to some degree, preference of the business. The Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 provides for the ATO to pass information to the Australian Statistician for the purposes of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. See the data item list on the Downloads tab for the BAS variables available in the BLD and the Glossary for definitions of these variables. Users of the BLD CURF are advised to refer to the ATO website www.ato.gov.au for more information about BAS reporting requirements.
  • Customs administrative data - Value of imports and exports of goods are drawn from information provided to the ABS by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). These data also provide the source for ABS Merchandise Trade statistics. More information about import and export reporting requirements is available at the DIBP website www.border.gov.au.


DATA QUALITY

The volume of data included in the BLD is substantial and resource constraints mean it is not possible to quality assure each individual item. Users should take the following into consideration when using the BLD CURF.


Business Characteristics Survey (BCS)

The approach to quality assurance for the BCS aims to make the best use of ABS resources to meet user prioritised requirements - both in terms of data quality and timing of release. The approach specifies the level and degree to which each data item is quality assured, noting that only some of the total number of items in the BCS are able to be quality assured to the highest standards. Most of the data contained in the BLD CURF are 'as reported' by businesses with limited editing and cross-validation being applied. The qualitative nature of most of the categorical information included in the BCS also contributes to the difficulty of quality assuring these items. For example, there are a small number of items where businesses have been asked to 'tick one box only' yet multiple responses may have been provided. In these cases, contact would need to be made with the respondent to ascertain the correct response. However, it has not been possible to make contact with all businesses that may have reported in this way, in all instances. These responses have been appropriately flagged.

While every effort is made to aid reporting accuracy through form design and checking of a selection of the "more important" items (such as employment and innovation indicators), the BCS is subject to reporting error and users should take this into account when undertaking analysis,

Missing data

There are three reasons why data may be missing in the BLD CURF:

1. Question not completed

It is common in mail-out surveys for there to be some degree of missing information as a result of forms not being completed. Forms which are received without being completed at all (i.e. blank forms) are returned to respondents for completion. Forms which are received partly completed are not returned and may have some missing data in the BLD CURF. The ABS has not imputed for missing data and, where a response could be expected, the variable has been flagged as missing. Users should be aware that investigations by the ABS into non-response at particular questions indicate that, in the majority of cases, non-response equates to a negative response.

2. Question not required to be completed

There are a number of topics included in the BCS for which filter questions are used and a negative response usually results in the respondent being sequenced past other questions for that topic. Businesses for which this is a legitimate scenario will have the relevant variables flagged as not requiring a response. These items are coded as missing due to sequencing.

3. Question not asked

Some questions from the BCS form have changed over the five years included within this panel. These changes are made in order to improve the reliability of the data and increase the relevance of the question over time. These items are coded as question not asked this year.


Business Activity Statement

BAS data are supplied by the ATO to the ABS. Please note that the data is "as reported" to the ATO, and users should be aware that any discussion of the data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the data for statistical purposes at the unit record level, and is not related to the ability of the data to support the ATO's core operational requirements.

In some cases, BAS data may be partially missing for an individual business (for example, data may be available for three out of four quarters), due to the timing between the data being supplied to the ATO and compiling these data for inclusion in the BLD. No imputation is applied for missing data. BAS data included in the BLD were extracted in March 2016. Any BAS data items which are either missing or have not been reported have been assigned the missing value code of 999999999 within the BLD CURF.

BLD CURF users should also be aware that there are specific reporting requirements for businesses with Pay As You Go withholding payments. For example, these requirements may impact on values for wages and salaries as shown in BAS data included in the BLD CURF. For this reason, missing values for this item should not necessarily be interpreted as nil payment of wages and salaries.

BAS data are treated to account for consolidated reporting arrangements. The treatment apportions the consolidated values equally to each member of the consolidated reporting group.


Data related to imports and exports of goods

Data included in the BLD CURF related to the imports and exports of goods are available from three sources:
  • BCS: respondents to the BCS are asked to report if they have received income from the exports of goods during the reference period. This item requires the respondent to self identify via a categorical response;
  • Export Sales as reported on BAS: the free on board (f.o.b.) value of sales of exported goods that meet the GST-free export rules; sourced from data reported to the ATO. These data are matched to sampled businesses using the ABN;
  • Merchandise trade information originally from the DIBP: Merchandise trade statistics on a recorded trade basis (Australian Customs Value for imports and f.o.b. value for exports) are compiled from information submitted by exporters and importers or their agents to the DIBP. These data are matched to sampled businesses using the ABN.

The reporting requirements for data collected by the ATO and the DIBP are detailed and there are differences in requirements between the two. As the information from each of the three sources is collected on a different basis, it may result in some inconsistencies between the trade data items included in the BLD CURF. For example, a business may have self identified as an exporter on the BCS yet no corresponding BAS export sales and/or value of exports from merchandise trade data are available. The differences between the three sources relate to:
  • the scope of the exporting activity and whether it includes both export of goods and of services, or goods alone;
  • whether any financial threshold is applied to the inclusion of the activity;
  • the degree of subjectivity involved in the method of identification of exporting status, for example a business which produces goods for export but on-sells them to an exporter may incorrectly self identify as an exporter in the BCS.

The ABS has not contacted businesses in the sample to clarify specific reasons for the differences. BLD CURF users are advised to use the source best suited to their specific analytical needs.


SAMPLE LOSS

The business population in Australia is not static, changing constantly as a result of new businesses being created (often referred to as births), businesses which cease operation (deaths) and businesses which undergo structural change. As each panel in the BLD represents the business population at the time of selection, it is these latter two changes (deaths and structural change) that need to be dealt with in the BLD.

No action is taken to adjust for births as this would be inconsistent with the principle that each panel represents the business population at the time of initiation and not the population as it may be after five years (i.e. when the panel lapses).


Deaths

The statistical unit for the BLD is the ABN and it is the operations of the business represented by that ABN that are followed for the life of the panel. ABNs (i.e. businesses) which cease to operate during the life of the panel are considered to be deaths. Businesses may cease to operate for a variety of reasons, for example, they may be wound up or they may be sold to or taken over by another businesses entity. For the purposes of the BLD, businesses (as represented by ABNs) which cease to operate or are wound up during the life of the panel remain in the sample and are appropriately flagged. Any data for that business prior to it ceasing to operate is included in the BLD. As noted above in SAMPLE DESIGN, each BLD panel includes an allowance for expected deaths.


Structural Change

There are a number of reasons why a selected business will change in structure over the life of the panel. A business may merge with another business; be wholly or partly taken over; split into multiple new businesses; take over part or all of another business; or, any combination of these. For the purposes of the BLD, if the original ABN continues to operate, the business will remain in the sample without having any flags incorporated to indicate change. It is recognised that this may create a difficulty for the analyst as the business has undergone a change and should be treated as such, but such change is not easily identifiable. Businesses which undergo structural change and cease using the original ABN are treated as deaths.


Businesses which are out of scope

It is possible that businesses which have been selected in a BLD panel may have incorrect structural information (industry and/or employment size) on the Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register (ABSBR). Part of initialising each panel includes checking the structural information to ensure that the business is actually in scope of the BLD, for example, not a large business or part of a business with a complex structure. Businesses may be made out of scope during the life of the panel if they become part of a complex business structure. These will be flagged appropriately and no subsequent data will be present in the BLD CURF. Businesses which, at the time of initiation, were below the employment size cut-off but grow to have 200 or more employees remain in scope and continue to have data collected and included in the BLD CURF.


Businesses with a "live" ABN but no operations

There are businesses in the BLD panels which have become dormant and are flagged as nils. These are businesses which retain their ABN but no longer operate in the market. Nils include businesses which have temporarily ceased their operations.


Non-response

While every effort has been made to achieve full response for businesses selected in each BLD Panel, there is a small level of non-response. In combining survey data with that from administrative sources, it is possible for a business which did not respond to the BCS to have ATO or Customs sourced data present. All non-responding businesses have been confirmed as live and operating and have been flagged in the CURF using the status field.