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5250.0 - Australian Business Expectations, Sep 2001 and Jun 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/06/2001   
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MEDIA RELEASE

June 22, 2001
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
75/2001

ABS business snapshot points to improved outlook

Large and medium Australian businesses expect profit improvements in the short and medium terms. In contrast, the expectations of small businesses, while continuing to improve, are still pessimistic, according to the nation's most comprehensive survey of business expectations released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Director of the Survey, Ms Merry Branson, said the results, which were based on ABS contact with more than 4,500 businesses nationwide, presented a valuable snapshot of business expectations. The survey provides an in-depth reference about business expectations that takes into account industry, size and State perspectives.

Ms Branson said there was a "stark contrast" in profit expectations depending on the size of the business.

"Medium businesses have now joined large businesses in expecting increases in profit outlook for the September quarter 2001," she said.

"Medium businesses are expecting an 11.0% increase and large businesses are expecting an 8.7% increase. Small businesses, however, continue to be pessimistic with profit expected to decrease 13.6% in the short term."

The survey results show that businesses in the construction, wholesale and retail industries are expecting big turnarounds, with the construction industry expecting a decline in short term profit (44.7%) to become a medium term increase (10.9%). The wholesale industry is expecting that its profit decline of 33.6% will become a profit increase of 10.4% and the retail industry is expecting a change from a decline of 14.8% to an increase of 1.2%.

Although overall businesses expect profit to decline by 3.1% in the September quarter 2001, the outlook for the June quarter 2002 is optimistic, with business expecting profit to increase 9.4%.

The employment outlook continues to show declining expectations. Businesses expect that in the September quarter 2001, full-time equivalent employment will decrease 1.5%. This is the lowest expectation since the commencement of the series in the December quarter 1993. Businesses of all sizes in all industries and in all States are expecting full-time equivalent employment to decrease.

The decline continues in the medium term with businesses expecting full-time equivalent employment to decrease 1.8% in the June quarter 2002. Again this is the lowest expectation since the commencement of the series in the September quarter 1994, and again businesses of all sizes in all industries and in all States are expecting full-time equivalent employment to decrease.

Details are available in Australian Business Expectations September Qtr 2001 and June Qtr 2002 (cat. no. 5250.0) available from ABS Bookshops. The key points from the publication and the full time series tables may be found on this site.

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