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The businesses that are included in the BLD are classified:
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. This product related to panel four of the BLD which is representative of the in-scope business population as at 30 June 2009. 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 the Stratification Derived Employment Size (SDES). SDES was introduced to the business survey frame in December 2008, to replace the Derived Size Benchmark (DSB), which was used in previous panels of the BLD. This new benchmark variable is derived using an item called number of payees, which is essentially a total count of payment summaries issued by a business over the course of a year. Number of payees is sourced from the Summary of Payment Summaries form which businesses are required to submit to the Australian Taxation Office at the end of each financial year. An adjustment factor is then applied to bring it to a level equivalent to employment. Further information regarding SDES can be found in Methodological News, Mar 2009 (cat. no. 1504.0)
Once a business is 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. As employment is collected in the survey, users will be able to observe businesses which have changed size over time.
There are four business size ranges used in the stratification:
State/territory is not included in the 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 is approximately 2,000- 2,500 businesses per panel.
POPULATION COUNTS AND PANEL SAMPLE SIZE
The sample was selected from a survey frame created in June 2009 and includes 2,513 businesses. There were a total of 1,244,109 businesses eligible for selection. This BLD CURF release contains a completed set of five reference periods of data (2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13).
BLD Panel Four, Business Population Counts (a), Business Employment Size
(a) Population count as at 30 June 2009.
(b) Non-employing businesses are those without an active ATO Income Tax Withholding role.
BLD Panel Four, Business Sample Counts (a), Business Employment Size
(a) Sample count as at 30 June 2009.
(b) Non-employing businesses are those without an active ATO Income Tax Withholding role.
In the BLD CURF, weights are based on the stratum (i.e. industry division by business employment size).
Use of the BLD CURF to calculate population or cross-sectional estimates is not recommended as the BLD sample is not designed to enable the creation of such estimates with reasonable accuracy.
The BLD is populated from data directly collected via the ABS Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) and administrative data provided to the ABS for statistical purposes by other government agencies.
Business Characteristics Survey
The BCS is an annual ABS survey that is conducted via a mail-out 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.
In developing the BCS instrument, as with all ABS surveys, it has been necessary to achieve an appropriate balance between developing a survey which enables the collection of comprehensive, integrated data with the responsibility of managing the reporting load of businesses.
Most of the items included in the BCS are categorical in nature (i.e. require a yes/no response).
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.
Administrative data included in the BLD are:
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 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 and users should take this into account when undertaking analysis,
There are three reasons why data may be missing in the BLD CURF:
1. 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 indicate that, in the majority of cases, non-response equates to a negative response.
2. 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.
3. 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 items are coded as question not asked this year.
Business Activity Statement
BAS data are supplied by the ATO to the ABS. Please note that the data is "as reported" to the ATO, and 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, 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), due to the timing between the data being supplied to the ATO and compiling these data for inclusion in the BLD. No imputation is applied for missing data. BAS data included in the BLD were extracted in March 2016. 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.
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.
BAS data are treated to account for consolidated reporting arrangements. The treatment apportions the consolidated values equally to each member of the consolidated reporting group.
Data related to imports and exports of goods
Data included in the BLD CURF related to the imports and exports of goods are available from three sources:
The reporting requirements for data collected by the ATO and the DIBP 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 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.
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).
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.
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 Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register (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.
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 field.
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