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8168.0.55.001 - Microdata: Business Longitudinal Database, Australia, 2006-07 to 2010-11 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/06/2013   
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ABOUT THE BUSINESS LONGITUDINAL DATABASE


STATISTICAL UNITS

In analysing the data in the BLD CURF, it is important to understand how the ABS classifies businesses for statistical purposes. Statistical units are those entities from which statistics are collected, or about which statistics are compiled. In ABS economic statistics, the statistical unit is generally the business. The ABS Business Register (ABSBR) is used to record information about statistical units and is used to create the frames for most ABS economic collections.

The ABS uses an economic statistics units model on the ABSBR to describe the characteristics of businesses, and the structural relationships between related businesses. Within large, complex and diverse business groups, the units model is used to define reporting units that can provide data to the ABS at suitable levels of detail.

This units model allocates businesses to one of two sub-populations:

  • Businesses with a simple structure - Most businesses and organisations in Australia need to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN). They are then included on the whole-of-government register of businesses, the Australian Business Register (ABR), which is maintained by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Most of these businesses have simple structures, therefore the unit registered for an ABN will satisfy ABS statistical requirements. For these businesses, the ABS has aligned its statistical units structure with the ABN unit. The businesses with simple structures constitute the ATO maintained population (ATOMP), and the ABN unit is used as the statistical unit for all integrated ABS economic collections.
  • Businesses with a complex structure - For the population of businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical requirements, the ABS maintains its own units structure through direct contact with the business. These businesses constitute the ABS maintained population (ABSMP). This population consists typically of large, complex and diverse businesses. For businesses in the ABSMP, statistical units comprise the Enterprise Group, the Enterprise and the Type of Activity Unit (TAU). The range of activities across the Enterprise Group can be very diverse. The TAU represents a grouping of one or more business entities within the Enterprise that cover all of the operations within an industry subdivision and for which a basic set of financial, production and employment data can be reported.

Together these two sub-populations (of ABN units and TAUs) make up the ABSBR population.


SCOPE AND COVERAGE

The scope of the BLD is restricted to the ATOMP, i.e. businesses with a simple structure. This facilitates the confidentialisation process as larger businesses may be more easily identified and avoids difficulties in dealing with matching ATO data for businesses with a complex structure. On this basis, the statistical unit for the BLD is the ABN unit. For the purposes of the BLD, the term business is interchangeable with the ABN unit.

The businesses that are included in the BLD are classified:
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 BLD includes both non-employing and employing businesses in the Australian economy except for:
  • large businesses, i.e. with 200 or more employees or 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 which report $50,000 or less for sales of goods and/or services in their Business Activity Statement (BAS) return annually;
  • businesses classified to the following ANZSIC 2006 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
      ANZSIC06 Group 921 Libraries
      ANZSIC06 Group 922 Museums
      ANZSIC06 Group 923 Parks and Gardens

For detailed information on ANZSIC 2006 classes included in the Food Industry component - see Appendix.
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. Panel Three is representative of the in-scope business population as at 30 June 2007. 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 a derived employment size indicator - Derived Size Benchmark (DSB). DSB is a derived item using ATO data which models employment and formed a part of stratification for all ABS business surveys at the time of the panels' selection. Once 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. However, as employment is collected in the survey component, users will be able to observe businesses which have changed size over time. As DSB is created at the time the business first appears on the ABSBR, elapsed time can lead to reported employment differing from DSB. Changes to industry division, however, are not recorded in the BLD.

There are four business size ranges used in 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 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 (excluding the Food Industry component), is approximately 2,000 businesses per panel.


Food Industry Component

The Food Industry component is defined by ANZSIC 2006 classes predominantly associated with food for human consumption in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing; Manufacturing; and Wholesale Trade industry divisions. Consequently, there are "Food Industry" and "Non-Food Industry" flags for units in these three Divisions. The definition of the Food Industry component was determined through user consultation during the initial BLD development.

In addition to the core BLD sample, extra sample of approximately 1,000 businesses have been included for the Food Industry (i.e. approximately a third of selections in each panel are Food Industry additional sample). The original Food Industry stratification was based on food industry class by employment size. This stratification has been amended for Panel Three due to the use of ANZSIC 2006 in sample selection. These Food Industry units are now selected at group level, rather than the class level as in the previous BLD CURF. The Food Industry additional sample was allocated on a similar basis to that of the core sample, on average an equal number of selections per stratum. Unlike in the core BLD, resource limitations did not permit an initial allocation of approximately 40 businesses per stratum. Therefore, in the Food Industry component, the allocation was reduced to a maximum of 20 businesses in total for each class, i.e. for the combination of the four business employment size ranges.

As part of the confidentialising process, the original Food Industry stratification has been collapsed to food industry division in the BLD CURF.
POPULATION COUNTS AND PANEL SAMPLE SIZE

This sample was selected from a survey frame created in June 2007 and includes 3,075 businesses. There were a total of 1,259,953 businesses eligible for selection. This BLD CURF release contains a completed set of five reference periods of data (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11).

BLD Panel Three, 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(c)
Food Industry  
102 369
33 288
16 142
2 629
154 428
Non-food Industry  
26 639
5 847
2 604
913
36 003
Total  
129 008
39 135
18 746
3 542
190 431
Mining  
1 367
2 264
452
124
4 207
Manufacturing(c)
Food Industry  
1 678
4 642
2 376
681
9 377
Non-food Industry  
17 469
31 173
10 402
3 069
62 113
Total  
19 147
35 815
12 778
3 750
71 490
Construction  
134 421
112 108
13 383
1 672
261 584
Wholesale(c)
Food Industry  
2 549
4 519
1 339
341
8 748
Non-food Industry  
13 146
25 904
7 401
1 873
48 324
Total  
15 695
30 423
8 740
2 214
57 072
Retail Trade  
31 137
62 314
17 185
2 999
113 635
Accommodation and Food Services
12 344
38 435
13 847
3 333
67 959
Transport, Postal and Warehousing
41 691
36 767
4 033
815
83 306
Information Media and Telecommunications
3 716
5 801
1 167
384
11 068
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services
65 434
25 686
6 195
1 006
98 321
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
50 761
91 360
15 559
2 862
160 542
Administrative and Support Services
16 662
26 976
6 670
2 480
52 788
Arts and Recreation Services
7 909
7 909
1 732
288
17 838
Other Services
21 630
40 308
7 041
733
69 712
Total in-scope population  
550 922
555 301
127 528
26 202
1 259 953

(a) Population count as at 30 June 2007. Includes in-scope population on frame only.
(b) Non-employing businesses are those without an active ATO Income Tax Withholding role.
(c) See text for an explanation of the Food Industry component of BLD.

BLD Panel Three, 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(c)
Food Industry  
144
144
132
129
549
Non-food Industry  
38
36
34
34
142
Total  
182
180
166
163
691
Mining  
43
34
27
9
113
Manufacturing(c)
Food Industry  
90
78
66
61
295
Non-food Industry  
45
36
31
31
143
Total  
135
114
97
92
438
Construction  
41
35
31
34
141
Wholesale Trade(c)
Food Industry  
45
33
30
32
140
Non-food Industry  
46
35
31
32
144
Total  
91
68
61
64
284
Retail Trade  
48
40
37
34
159
Accommodation and Food Services
59
48
38
35
180
Transport, Postal and Warehousing
45
37
33
32
147
Information Media and Telecommunications
49
39
35
32
155
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services
43
38
33
38
152
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
44
38
34
36
152
Administrative and Support Services
44
38
33
34
149
Arts and Recreation Services
51
43
35
33
162
Other Services
46
39
34
33
152
Total in-scope sample
921
791
694
669
3 075

(a) Sample count as at 30 June 2007.
(b) Non-employing businesses are those without an active ATO Income Tax Withholding role.
(c) See text for an explanation of the Food Industry component of BLD.

WEIGHTING

In the BLD CURF, weights are based on the stratum (i.e. Industry division by business employment size) with the exception of units in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing; Manufacturing; and Wholesale trade. For units in the Food Industry component of these three industries, weights are based on the original stratification (food industry class by business employment size). For the non-food industry units in these three industries, weight is based on "Non-food industry part of division by business employment size". Users should be aware that food industry class is not available on the BLD CURF as an indicative item.

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


DATA SOURCES

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


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 on either a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, depending on the size and, to some degree, preference of the business. BAS data included in the BLD are as provided by the ATO. 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 which is available from the ABS website as a datacube for the BAS variables 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 Customs. These data also provide the source for ABS Merchandise Trade statistics. More information about import and export reporting requirements is available at the Customs website (www.customs.gov.au).


Business Characteristics Survey

The BCS is an annual ABS survey and is conducted via a mail-out/mail-back 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.

Content

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

One of the key aims of the BLD is to enable analysis of business productivity, including the capacity of businesses to undertake activities which lead to performance growth and the relative importance of these activities in driving that growth.

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

Reference period

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.

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 Activity Statement

BAS data are supplied by the ATO to the ABS. 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 (i.e. this BLD CURF), 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). No imputation is applied for missing data. The impact of this approach is somewhat mitigated by the timing of compiling these data. BAS data included in the BLD were compiled in December 2012, therefore, the time that has elapsed since the end of the latest included reference period (June 2011) has resulted in BAS records that are predominantly complete.

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. Users should ensure that they do not inadvertently use the missing value code as a numeric value. This will ensure that these missing value codes do not incorrectly contribute to BLD CURF usage or outputs.

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. The ABS is investigating how this can be rectified for future BLD CURF releases.


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.

Missing data

There are three reasons why data may be missing in the BLD CURF: question not completed; question not required to be completed (i.e. sequencing); or question not asked this year.

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 indicates that, in the majority of cases, non-response equates to a negative response.

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.

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 question changes are illustrated on the CURF using special codes. These codes are outlined in more detail in the section Using the BLD CURF.

Data related to imports and exports of goods (i.e. trade items)

Data included in the BLD CURF related to 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 or have imported any goods during the reference period. The responses to these items require 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 Customs: 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 Customs. These data are matched to sampled businesses using the ABN.

The reporting requirements for data collected by the ATO and Customs 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.

Other quality considerations

Some additional information related to quality of reporting for selected BCS data items is included in the chapter, Using the BLD CURF.
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 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 fields.
CONFIDENTIALISING THE DATA

The BLD CURF is released under the provisions of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. The Act allows for the release of data in the form of unit records where the information is not likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. Accordingly, there are no names or addresses of survey respondents on the BLD CURF, and other steps have been taken to protect the confidentiality of respondents. These include:
  • Perturbing (value adjustment) of BAS data for all businesses.
  • Reducing the level of detail shown on the BLD CURF for some data items. For example, some data items collected in the survey have been omitted, collapsed with other data items, or presented in ranges.
  • Sub-sampling of businesses in the Food Industry component to ensure that each business on the BLD CURF represents at least several other businesses in the population. Businesses sub-sampled for inclusion on the BLD CURF have been selected in a manner such that they are largely representative (in regards to their business industry and size) of the businesses excluded during sub-sampling.
  • Changes to some other data item values of a very small number of businesses with rare characteristics.

Users should be aware that the methodology applied to perturb financial data does not impact on the comparability between selected businesses within a time period or over time nor on the relationships between individual items for a selected business.


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