1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Productivity improvements across the Australian economy differ appreciably from industry to industry, reflecting many factors. Some industries, for example, may experience changes in productivity as a result of significant technological advances or industrial reorganisation. Others, such as agriculture, and electricity, gas, water and waste services can have their overall productivity considerably influenced by factors like the weather and the availability of water - factors distinct from an economic notion of productivity or technical progress. Another example is that the influence of the depletion of resources, and the lag between mining investment and increased output, are not adjusted for in official productivity measures for the mining industry.

In recent years, there have been ongoing efforts by the Productivity Commission, the ABS, and other researchers to examine these influences. These studies are complementary to official statistics and shed further light on some of the hard to measure influences, to better understand the drivers of productivity.

For the decade 1998-99 to 2008-09, the most significant growth in productivity occurred in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry (2.6% per year on average), the financial and insurance services industry (1.4%), the transport, postal and warehousing industry (1.2%), and the retail trade industry (1.1%). Industries that experienced considerably reduced productivity during this period included the electricity, gas, water and waste services industry (-3.1%), and the mining industry (-2.8%). For industries recording reduced productivity, factors other than pure technical change have been found to be influential and therefore the growth results should be treated with caution.

Of note is the fact that not all Australian industries are covered under current multifactor productivity measures. This is due largely to the fact that the outputs of some service-producing industries are hard to measure, in particular for those services provided by governments. A significant challenge is to ensure that productivity in these industries is accurately assessed in the future especially given that the performance of these industries (such as health and education) is critical to governments and the economy.

Multifactor productivity(a),
average annual growth rate - 1998-99 to 2008-09


Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services
Wholesale Trade
Retail Trade
Accommodation and Food Services
Transport, Postal and Warehousing
Information, Media and Telecommunications
Financial and Insurance Services
Arts and Recreation Services
Selected industries

Market sector industries(b)

(a) Gross value added based measures.
(b) Also includes Rental, hiring and real estate services; Professional, scientific and technical services; Administrative and support services; and Other services.
Source: ABS Experimental Estimates of Industry Multifactor Productivity, 2008-09 (cat. no. 5260.0.55.002)


  • Productivity glossary
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