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Economic Indicators (FAQs)
 

Q. Where can I find information on the economy?
Q. What is meant by Balance of Payments?
Q. How is National Accounts information used in the Australian economy?
Q. Where can I find the latest figures?
Q. Where can I get further information?
Q. How can I access data?
Q. When is information released?
Q. What Key Standards are used in compiling the National Accounts?
Q. What is GDP?
Q. How is GDP measured?
Q. Should GDP be used as a measure of social progress?
Q. What is the difference between a current price and a chain volume?
Q. How is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) used?
Q. What other Price Indexes are published by the ABS?
Q. What is the House Price Index?


Q. Where can I find information on the economy?

A. The Australian Economic Indicators is a monthly compendium of economic statistics, presenting comprehensive tables, graphs, commentaries, feature articles and technical notes. Primarily a reference document, the publication provides a broad basis for analysis and research on the Australian economy and includes statistics that can be applied to both macro-economic and sectoral analyses. The publication contains statistics under the following headings: national accounts, international accounts, consumption and investment, production, prices, labour force and demography, incomes and labour costs, financial markets, state comparisons and international comparisons.


Q. What is meant by Balance of Payments?

A. The Balance of Payments (BOP) is one of Australia's key sets of economic statistics. BOP records economic transactions between residents of Australia and residents of the rest of the world.

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Q. How is National Accounts information used in the Australian economy?

A. National Accounts are designed to provide a systematic summary of national economic activity and have been developed to assist in the practical application of economic theory. The Australian system of national accounts includes national income, expenditure, product accounts, financial accounts, the national balance sheet, input-output tables and satellite accounts. For more information on the use of National Accounts see frequently asked questions.


Q. Where can I find the latest figures?

A. A summary of Australia's economic and social indicators can be found on the Key National Indicators page. This includes the latest figures for a range of key national indicators covering the National Accounts, International Accounts, consumption and investment, production, prices, labour force and demography, incomes and housing finance.


Q. Where can I get further information?

  • National Income, Expenditure and Product provides quarterly estimates of GDP and its components.
See: Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (cat. no. 5206.0)
  • Annual estimates of GDP provide a more detailed breakdown of various components of the National Accounts than can be found in the quarterly national accounts. Information on Capital, Investment, Productivity and Sector (Household, Financial Corporations etc) accounts are also provided.
See: Australian System of National Accounts (cat. no. 5204.0)
  • Gross state product and its major components (including State final demand) are produced on an annual basis. Household income and Income components of Gross state product are also included.
See: Australian National Accounts: State Accounts (cat. no. 5220.0)
  • Quarterly estimates of the financial flows between sectors of the domestic economy and with the rest of the world. In addition, estimates of the financial assets and liabilities owned by each sector and various sub-sectors at the end of each quarter.
See: Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts (cat. no. 5232.0)
  • Input-Output Tables provide detailed information about the supply and use of products in the Australian economy and about the structure of and inter-relationships between Australian industries.

See: Australian National Accounts: Input-Output Tables - Electronic Publication, 2005-06 Final (cat. no. 5209.0.55.001)

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Q. How can I access data?

A. Within many publications that are found on the ABS website there are downloads available that contain data available in Excel format for ease of use. To do this, go to the publication that you would like further download information about. When you select the publication, identifiable by a 4 digit catalogue number included in the title, there will be a range of tabs across the page including Summary, Downloads, Explanatory Notes etc. Select 'Downloads'. This will provide a list of the downloads that are available from this publication. This may include time series data, tables and a pdf copy of the publication itself.


Q. When is information released?

A. National Accounts Key publications are released as follows:

Please note: these are a guide only and may be subject to change.

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Q. What Key Standards are used in compiling the National Accounts?

A. System of National Accounts 2008 (SNA08)
This is an standard that sets out how to compile measures of economic activity in accordance with strict accounting conventions based on economic principles.
    Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) This Classification has been developed for use in the compilation and analysis of industry statistics in Australia and New Zealand.
      Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA)
      SESCA contains the suite of economic sector classifications used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to produce Australia's official economic sector statistics.

      The classifications are:
      • Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA);- Public/Private Classification;
      • Level of Government Classification;
      • Jurisdiction Classification; and
      • Type of Legal Organisation (TOLO).
      These classifications are used in the compilation and publication of the National Accounts, Government Finance and International Accounts statistics as well as other component economic indicators.
        Classification of Individual Consumption According to Purpose (COICOP)
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          Q. What is GDP?

          A. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is an economic measure of production. It is the total market value of goods and services produced in Australia within a given period after deducting the cost of goods and services used up in the process of production, but before deducting consumption of fixed capital (depreciation of assets). Thus gross domestic product, as here defined, is 'at market prices'. It is equivalent to gross national expenditure plus exports of goods and services less imports of goods and services.


          Q. How is GDP measured?

          A. There are three ways of measuring GDP:
          • by summing the value added at each stage of production and adding net taxes on products (GDP production)
          • by summing the income generated by production and adding net taxes on production (GDP income)
          • by summing final expenditures on goods and services and deducting imports of goods and services (GDP expenditure)

          Q. Should GDP be used as a measure of social progress?

          A. GDP is a measure of economic performance. In particular a measure of production within an economy in a specific period of time. GDP uses key transactions within the economy including: consumer spending, savings, investment, government spending, income, imports and exports to calculate the production of an economy. This has been criticised for failing to take into account other aspects of the economy that might reflect the social progress of the economy. GDP does not directly take into account other social non-monetary transactions such as leisure, the environment and distribution of income. It is for this reason that GDP should be seen as only a measure of production.

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          Q. What is the difference between a current price and a chain volume?

          A. Gross Domestic Product is measured as a percentage change in dollar values from year to year. This is the only way to combine all goods and services transactions into a common unit of measurement.

          When measured at current prices, GDP will be recorded in dollar values of that year.

          Current prices do not take into account price changes over a time series. This means that the National Accounts may show that the amount spent on cars is three times as much as the previous year, when in actual fact the volume of cars has remained the same but the change is solely in the price of the cars.

          Chain volume measures remove the effect of price changes by measuring how physical volumes have changed rather than how the total value has changed.


          Q. How is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) used?

          A. As a macroeconomic indicator. The CPI, and other index series derived from CPI data, are used by the Government and economists to monitor and evaluate levels of inflation in the Australian economy. Inflation (and inflationary expectations) play a major role in determining various aspects of Government economic policy, and in the business and investment decisions of private firms and individuals. It should be noted that the CPI itself, is not a measure of economy-wide inflation, as it only relates to household expenditure. See more on How Is The Consumer Price Index (CPI) Used?

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          Q. What other Price Indexes are published by the ABS?

          A. The ABS produces other price indexes, such as the Producer Price Index, Labour Price Index and House Price Index, that measure changes in the prices of other elements of the economy. Price indexes published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) provide summary measures of the movements in various categories of prices over time. They are published primarily for use in Government economic analysis. More information can be found in what other price indexes are published by the ABS?


          Q. What is the House Price Index?

          A. The House Price Index (HPI) measures the rate of change in the prices of the stock of established houses, including the land component, in the 8 capital cities. The national HPI is a weighted average of the indexes for the 8 capital cities. The scope for the HPI is restricted to those dwellings where the primary purpose is residential (i.e. excluding commercial properties) regardless of ownership or tenure of the occupants (i.e. including government-owned properties and properties owned by private landlords).

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