Construction Industry Survey

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    The survey has to date been conducted by the ABS in respect of 1978-79, 1984-85, 1988-89, 1996-97 and 2002-03. The survey collects income, expense, employment, activity and other details from a sample of private sector businesses with a predominant activity of Building Construction, Non-building Construction, or Construction Trade Services.


    The Construction Industry Survey (CIS) collects data required by both internal (to the ABS) and external parties. Key external users are the Commonwealth and State/Territory government departments, peak bodies, academics/researchers, community services providers. In particular, information collected under this survey will enable government bodies and industry to support submissions and proposals on a range of policy issues.

    Internal users of the data require detailed economic information that can be compared both across time and against industries other than the construction industry. In particular, data from this survey will be used in ABS publications such as the Australian National Accounts (Catalogue No. 5206.0) Additionally, the data from the survey will be used to create a detailed publication on the construction industry (Catalogue No. 8772.0)

    Therefore the key objectives of the Construction Industry Survey are:

    • Measure the size and structure of the industry;
    • Measure detailed items of income and expense;
    • Enable comparisons between States/Territories;
    • Enable comparison of the industry to other industries.

    The scope for the survey is all operating private and public trading sector businesses on the ABS Business Register defined as units with active ABN's, and all active ABN's with a CAC role of ITW, GST or ITI (at least one active CAC role) classified to ANZSIC division E (Construction). General coverage checks were undertaken for this industry.


    Conceptual framework

    The Construction Industry Survey provides an estimate of economic activity occuring in the construction industry. The definition of the industry that has been used for this survey is drawn from the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC). In this classification the construction industry:

    "includes all units mainly engaged in constructing buildings (including the on-site assembly and erection of prefabricated buildings), roads, railroads, aerodromes, irrigation projects, harbour or river works, gas, sewerage or stormwater drains or mains, electricity or other transmission lines or towers, pipelines, oil refineries or other specified civil engineering projects. In general, units mainly engaged in the repair of buildings or other structures are also included.... as are those engaged in the alteration or renovation of buildings, preparation of mine sites, demolition or excavation."

    Within the Construction Industry, 3 main populations have been identified:

    • Building Construction businesses
    • Non-Building Construction businesses
    • Construction Trade Services businesses.

    Also 5 main types of assets have been identified:
    • Houses
    • Other residential buildings
    • Non-residential buildings
    • Road and bridge construction
    • Other non building construction

    Additionally the type of construction work has been split into 3 categories:
    • New construction work
    • Alterations, additions, renovations and improvements
    • Repairs and maintenance.

      Main outputs

      Key outputs for this survey are:
      • "Income from trade services, building and construction by nature of contract (contracting vs subcontracting vs speculative) by type of asset (houses vs other residential building vs non-residential building vs road and bridge construction vs other non-building construction) by type of work (new construction work vs alterations, additions, renovations and improvements vs repairs and maintenance)".
      • Contract income from trade services, building and construction by type of client.
      • Inventories, assets and liabilities, capital expenditure and disposals by I/O industry and public versus private sector.
      • Employment, total income, wages and salaries and value added by state.

      Classifications used:

        1. ANZSPC - Australian & New Zealand Standard Product Classification for produts.

        2. ANZSIC - Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification for Industry

        Other concepts (summary)
        Not applicable

        New South Wales
        South Australia
        Western Australia
        Northern Territory

        Comments and/or Other Regions


        Frequency comments
        Previously, the collection was run approximately every 5 years. The last collection was run in 1996/97.

        The Construction Industry Survey (CIS) has been conducted for the financial year periods 1978/79, 1984/85, 1988/89, 1996/97 and 2002/03


        1978/79 Construction Activity in the Public Sector, Australia (ABS Cat No 8712.0)
        1978/79 Private Sector Construction Establishments, Details of Operations by Industry Class, Australia (ABS Cat No 8714.0)
        1984/85 Construction Industry Survey, Private Sector Construction Establishments, Summary of Operations, Australia (ABS Cat No 8771.0)
        1984/85 Public Sector Construction Activity Survey (ABS Cat No 8775.0)
        1988/89 Construction Industry Australia - Summary of Private Sector Operations (ABS Cat No 8771.0)
        1988/89 Public Sector Construction Activity, Australia (ABS Cat No 8775.0)
        1996/97 Private Sector Construction Industry, Australia (ABS Cat No. 8772.0)

        Major Changes over the years

        The 2002-03 CIS was conducted using an improved survey methodology, that made far greater use of Australian Taxation Office data in the survey design for construction industry. All private sector construction businesses, employing and non-employing, were in scope of the survey.

        The 1996-97 CIS collected information for the private sector only. Due to the significance of smaller businesses and non-employing businesses in this industry, particular care was taken in the treatment of small businesses to ensure that an accurate statistical view was obtained. Two frames were used for this survey:

          - the ABS Business Register frame; and
          - a supplementary frame of non-employers drawn from the Australian Taxation Office business income tax files.
        The 1996-97 CIS was designed to provide finer level industry estimates than data from the Economic Activity Survey, down to the 4 digit ANZSIC level (e.g. Plumbing services). The design of the CIS also supported State and Territory level estimates of a reliable quality, as far as practical.

        The main outputs from the 1996-97 CIS included:
          - number of businesses;
          - employment;
          - income and expenditure details;
          - selected operating ratios (e.g. profit margin, return on assets);
          - selected construction activity data (e.g. number of building approvals lodged); and
          - information on activities such as waste management and computer usage.

        Scope: Comprised all private sector establishments predominantly engaged in construction activities, defined as Division E of the ASIC. Note Owner Buildings (for own private use) are outside the scope of this survey.

        Units: Establishment - the smallest accounting unit within a management unit, within a State or Territory, which controls its productive activities and for which a specified range of detailed data is available annually.

        Collection: Enumeration by mail.
        For 1988/89 a separate collection was undertaken for the public sector, the Public Sector Construction Activity Survey.

        Coverage: ABS' Business Register and Australian Taxation Office (ATO) files. Includes data relating to separately located administrative offices and ancillary units (such as head offices and storage premises) serving the construction establishments.
        For 1984/85 a separate collection was undertaken for the public sector, the Public Sector Construction Activity Survey. (ABS cat 8775.0). The survey included details of construction and maintenance activities undertaken in 1984-85 by Federal, State and Local Government authorities.


        Scope: Private Sector Establishments and ancillary units predominantly engaged in construction activities. Public sector enterprises engaged in managing or undertaking construction activities with seven or more employees. Note Owner Buildings (for own private use) are outside the scope of this survey.

        Coverage: Created from a variety of sources including telephone directories and other ABS collections.

        Collection: Enumeration by mail and by field interviews
        Note: CIS data were understated in the 1978/79 collection as there were significant coverage deficiencies in this survey.


        Data availability comments
        Data was loaded to the ABS Information Warehouse.

        07/02/2005 01:09 PM