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8140.0 - Business Operations and Industry Performance, Australia, 1998-99  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/12/2000   
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MEDIA RELEASE

December 14, 2000
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)
176/2000

Fewer businesses, greater profits

The total number of operating businesses in the public trading and private employing sectors of the Australian economy fell by 0.4 percent between 1997-98 and 1998-99, following increases in each of the three previous years, according to estimates from the annual Economic Activity Survey released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

In 1998-99 there were 700,024 businesses, 3,054 fewer than the 703,078 businesses a year earlier. The decrease occurred almost entirely in small and medium sized businesses, while the number of large businesses remained virtually unchanged.

With total operating income increasing by significantly more than total operating expenses between 1997-98 and 1998-99, operating profit before tax increased by $9,721 million or 9.2 percent from $105,806 million in 1997-98 to $115,527 million in 1998-99. The largest percentage increase (59.7 percent) occurred in the cultural and recreational services industry.

The finance and insurance industry was again the most profitable industry recording $36,308 million in operating profit before tax. This was followed by the manufacturing industry with an operating profit before tax of $13,180 million.

Three quarters (74.9 percent) of businesses produced a profit during 1998-99 while just over one-fifth (21.8 percent) suffered a loss. This was little changed from 1997-98 when 74.4 percent of businesses produced a profit and 20.9 percent suffered a loss. While business profitability appears to have been improving over the last few years, it is still down on that experienced in 1995-96 when 77.3 percent of businesses produced a profit and only 19.5 percent suffered a loss.

Having been relatively static for the three years up to 1996-97, average profit has increased considerably over the last two years, by 11.4 percent between 1996-97 and 1997-98 and then by a further 9.5 percent between 1997-98 and 1998-99.

Further details are available in Business Operations and Industry Performance, Australia (cat. no. 8140.0) available from ABS Bookshop. A summary of main findings can be found on this site.

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