8161.0.55.003 - Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register, Counts of Businesses - Postcode by Industry Division by Employment Size, Jun 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/10/2005   
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  • Explanatory Notes


1 The products Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register, Counts of Businesses (cat. nos. 8161.0.55.001, 8161.0.55.002 and 8161.0.55.003) present counts of Australian businesses. These data are based on a snapshot of active businesses as at June 2004 (refer to paragraphs 21 and 22 for further information). This is the first issue of business counts produced solely from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register (ABSBR) since the introduction of The New Tax System (TNTS) in July 2000.


2 The Australian Bureau of Statistics (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 and diverse business groups, the units model is used also to define reporting units that can provide data to the ABS at suitable levels of detail.

3 In mid 2002, to better use the information available as a result of TNTS, the ABS changed its business register to a two population model. The vast majority of businesses are in what is called the Australian Tax Office maintained population (ATOMP), while the remaining businesses are in the Australian Bureau of Statistics maintained population (ABSMP).


4 Most businesses in Australia need to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN), and 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). Information about the ABR can be obtained from the ATO web site <www.ato.gov.au/businesses>. 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. Businesses with simple structures constitute the ATOMP.

5 As part of TNTS, businesses with annual turnover of $50,000 and above and non-profit organisations with annual turnover of $100,000 and above, are required to register for an ABN. Businesses below this threshold may choose to register for an ABN. When business entities change their registration details, including when entities cease or commence operations, they are required to notify the ABR of these changes.

6 A business entity may receive one ABN regardless of the number of commercial activities it undertakes. Alternatively, multiple commercial activities may be registered as separate ABNs depending on the legal structure adopted by the commercial venture. Hence, where commercial activities are carried out by a number of different, but related entities, each entity may register in its own right. Therefore, some care is needed in equating the number of ABN entities and their characteristics presented in this publication with the operation of business activities.


7 For the population of businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical requirements, the ABS applies a structure based on the ABS economic statistics units model which constitutes the ABSMP. This population consists typically of large, complex and diverse businesses.

Enterprise Group (EG):

8 This is a unit covering all the operations in Australia of one or more legal entities under common ownership and/or control. It covers all of the operations in Australia of legal entities which are related in terms of the current Corporations Law (as amended by the Corporations Legislation Amendment Act 1991). These may be legal entities such as trusts and partnerships as well as companies. Majority ownership is not required for control to be exercised.

Enterprise (EN):

9 The EN is an ABS institutional unit comprising a single legal entity or business entity, or a grouping of legal entities or business entities within an EG classified to the same Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA) subsector. These legal entities or business entities will be identifiable on the ABR as registrants with ABNs. In general, an enterprise will equate to a single entity except where groupings of entities align with legal reporting units suitable for ABS statistical purposes, e.g. units regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA). Separate entities can be grouped for reporting purposes to form a single enterprise provided they are in the same SISCA subsector and conform to data collection requirements. They are classified according to the industry subdivision of the main activity.

Type of Activity Unit (TAU):

10 The TAU is comprised of one or more business entities, sub-entities or branches of a business entity within an EG that can report production and employment data for similar economic activities. When a minimum set of data items is available, a TAU is created which covers all the operations within an industry subdivision (and the TAU is classified to the relevant subdivision of the ANZSIC). Where a business cannot supply adequate data for each industry, a TAU is formed which contains activity in more than one industry subdivision. These TAUs are classified according to the industry subdivision of the main activity. TAUs may have operations in one or more states/territories.

11 For more information about the economic statistics units model, refer to the Information Paper: Improvements in ABS Economic Statistics [Arising from The New Tax System] (cat. no. 1372.0).


12 The statistical unit referred to as a "business" consists of ABNs from the ATOMP and TAUs from the ABSMP.


13 Counts of businesses produced from the ABSBR comprise businesses defined as:

  • live TAUs from the ABSMP
  • ABNs from the ATOMP with at least one of the following non-cancelled tax roles: Goods and Services Tax Instalments Payer (GSTP), Income Tax Instalment Payer (ITIP) or Income Tax Withholding (ITW).

14 The concept of a business underlying the counts presented in the ABSBR, Counts of Businesses products conforms to the ABS working definition currently being finalised. For further information refer to the Information Paper: A Statistical View of Counts of Businesses in Australia (cat. no. 8162.0).

15 The population includes employing and non-employing, single location and multiple location businesses. Multiple location businesses are counted only once in each table, except for the State/Territories of Operations in table 5 (cat. no. 8161.0.55.001), where businesses are counted once in each state or territory in which they operate. Individual location address information is not available on the ABR or ABSBR.

16 Excluded from these counts are businesses classified to the following categories:

  • Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA):
      • 2100 Central Bank;
      • 3000 General Government;
      • 5000 Non-profit Institutions Serving Households; and
      • 6000 Rest of the World.
  • Type of Legal Organisation (TOLO):
      • 12 Charitable Institution;
      • 15 Social and Sporting Clubs;
      • 16 Trade Unions and Other Associations;
      • 20 Other Unincorporated Entity;
      • 41 Diplomatic or Trade Missions; and
      • 42 Other Foreign Government.

17 The exclusion of General Government particularly affects data for Education and Health and Community Services (ANZSIC Divisions N and O, respectively).

18 Employing businesses (i.e. those with an ITW role) in the ATOMP that have not reported or remitted to the ATO via a Business Activity Statement (BAS) for five consecutive quarters prior to the reference period are deemed to be no longer employing (called long term non-remitters). These businesses are treated as non-employing businesses if they have at least one non-cancelled GSTP or ITIP tax role, otherwise these businesses are deemed to be no longer in operation and hence excluded.


19 There are businesses which have not registered for an ABN, either because they do not have any obligations under the Goods and Services Taxation (GST) legislation or are under the threshold for registration and have chosen not to register. Therefore, these businesses are not included in counts presented in this publication. In addition, businesses in the ATOMP that have an illegal or missing ANZSIC, SISCA or TOLO classification are excluded.


Diagram: ABSBR business model

20 Refer to paragraph 16 for SISCA and TOLO descriptions.


21 Counts of businesses provided in the ABSBR, Counts of Businesses suite of products are based on a snapshot of the ABSBR as at 1 June, 2004.

22 The ATO provides the ABS with an extract of the ABR on a monthly basis. The ATOMP is made up of a subset of the ABR. It should be noted that the ABR extraction process is taken in the middle of each month by the ATO. For this issue, the ATOMP reflects ABR data as at 15 May, 2004. TAUs in the ABSMP are updated to the ABSBR on an ongoing basis and for this issue, include updates applied until 1st June, 2004.


23 The counts in the publication may be subject to non-sampling error and the cyclical administrative workflows of the ATO may impact on data interpretability.

24 The counts are not subject to sampling error as they represent a complete enumeration of those 'economically active' businesses on the ABSBR.

25 For businesses in the ATOMP, most classificatory data items reflect information provided to the ATO at the time of ABN registration. The exception is Number of Payees, which is updated annually by the ATO. In the ABSMP, classificatory data items for the most significant businesses are updated annually. Businesses on the next level of significance are updated biennially. Other businesses in the ABSMP are not routinely updated, but may be updated as a result of ABS survey feedback or other maintenance activity.


26 Employing units are defined as:

  • in the ATOMP, businesses with a non-cancelled ITW role and have remitted to the ATO at least once in the preceding five quarters. Note that this may include some employing businesses with zero employment;
  • in the ABSMP, businesses with greater than zero employees.

27 The sizing variable presented in the ABSBR business counts suite of products is employment. The employment ranges used are Non-employing, 0-19, 20-199 and 200+.

28 The definition of employment differs depending on the ABSBR population in which the business resides:

  • in the ATOMP, businesses report "number of payees" defined as the estimated number of individuals to which payments are made. Payments to people under a voluntary agreement or labour hire arrangement are excluded;
  • in the ABSMP, businesses report "employment" defined as the number of persons who work for a public or private employer and receive remuneration in wages or salaries (including working proprietors and working partners), or is paid a retainer fee by his/her employer. Employment excludes non-salaried directors; volunteers; persons paid by commission only; and self employed persons such as consultants and contractors.


29 Businesses can operate in more than one state/territory. For businesses in the ATOMP, Main State is derived from the main business address. For businesses in the ABSMP, Main State is the state or territory with the highest employment. Therefore, for some businesses in the ABSMP, Main State is not necessarily the state or territory of the main business address.

30 Counts of businesses by Main State contained in cat. nos. 8161.0.55.001 and 8161.0.55.002 will not equal counts of businesses by state/territory in cat. no. 8161.0.55.003. In cat. no. 8161.0.55.003, the postcode and related state/territory are derived from the main business address for all businesses.


31 Each ABN unit or TAU on the ABSBR has been classified (by the ATO and the ABS respectively) to a single industry class, irrespective of any diversity of activities undertaken. The industry class allocated is the one which provides the main source of income, which is generally based on a description provided by the business. This may differ from the industry coding used in some other ABS publications which are based on reported data supplied by businesses.


32 The data presented in tables have been confidentialised to ensure no individual business can be identified. Data are only published where a minimum number of businesses contribute to a cell of data. Other cells of data in the table which may or may not have met this threshold are also suppressed to ensure businesses cannot be identified from the totals. The number of businesses in suppressed cells are included in totals unless otherwise stated.


33 Estimates of the number of businesses operating in the Australian economy may be derived from a number of sources within the ABS or from non-ABS sources. They may relate to a point in time, or may be average annual data. These estimates will not always show the same results. Variations occur because of the differing data sources, differing definitions of a business, differing scope and coverage between surveys, as well as variations due to sampling and non-sampling errors.

34 The definition of employing/non-employing in the ABS can also vary according to collection methodology, data sources, and user requirements and uses.

35 Users comparing data from this publication with other ABS data should do so with care, as this publication relates to businesses while some other ABS publications relate to business entities (for example Experimental Estimates, Entries and Exits of Business Entities, Australia cat. no. 8160.0.55.001), or exclude non-employing businesses or particular industries or sectors.

36 For further information refer to the Information Paper: A Statistical View of Counts of Businesses in Australia (cat. no. 8162.0).


37 Counts of business entities (ABNs registered and active for a GST tax role only) have been provided for June 2004 in the Appendix (cat. no. 8161.0.55.001). These counts are comparable to counts of business entities sourced from the ABR as at October 2000 and June 2001 provided in Australian Business Register: Counts of Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) (cat. no. 1369.0.55.001), which are also included in the Appendix. Counts of businesses sourced from the ABSBR as at June 2004 have been provided in the Appendix (cat. no. 8161.0.55.001) to enable comparison of counts produced using the two different models.

38 For all other tables, comparison of counts of businesses should not be made to previous business entity counts produced as at October 2000 or June 2001 (cat. nos. 1369.0.55.001, 8136.0.55.001 and 8138.0.55.001).


39 Further data about ABSBR business counts are available in these ABS electronic products:

      Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register, Counts of Businesses - Industry by Main State by Employment Size Ranges (cat. no. 8161.0.55.002). This product provides detailed industry information at the ANZSIC class level.
      Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register, Counts of Businesses - Postcode by Industry Division by Employment Size (cat. no. 8161.0.55.003). Both single location and multiple location businesses are included in these data and are classified by the postcode of the main business address, resulting in multiple location businesses only being counted once. Individual location address information is not available. Note that counts of businesses at the state/territory level in this dataset are not the same as the counts of businesses by Main State in the other related products - refer to the Main State section for an explanation.


40 Users may also wish to refer to the following ABS publications:
      Australian Business Register, Counts of ABNs, cat. no. 1369.0.55.001, released on 26 March 2002

      Australian Business Register, Counts of Single Business Locations, ANZSIC Industry Division by Postcode, cat. no. 8136.0.55.001, released on 26 March 2002 discontinued
      Australian Business Register, ANZSIC Industry Class by State, cat. no. 8138.0.55.001. released on 26 March 2002 discontinued
      Australian Industry, cat. no. 8155.0, released on 7 February 2005
      Australian Industry: Summary of Industry Performance, Australia, Data Report, cat. no. 8155.0.55.002, released on 7 February 2005
      Australian Industry: States, Territories and Australia, Industry Subdivision: Experimental Estimates, Data Report, cat. no. 8155.0.55.003, released on 7 February 2005
      Experimental Estimates, Entries and Exits of Business Entities, Australia, cat. no. 8160.0.55.001, released on 23 June 2005

41 A range of publications presenting detailed results of economic surveys are also produced by the ABS. In general, these publications contain considerable detail about the employing sector of each industry. Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The catalogue is available from the ABS web site. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the ABS web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.


42 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request and for a charge. Inquiries should be made to the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

43 Information is also available on-line via a selection of industry-specific theme pages. To access these theme pages, go to the ABS web site home page <www.abs.gov.au>. Open the Industry link shown under THEMES (located in the left-side navigator 'Quick links'), then select one of the links shown under Industry.