6423.0 - Producer Price Indexes for Selected Service Industries, Australia, Mar 2000  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/04/2000   
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April 13, 2000
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Attention Economic and Business Editors

Media Alert.....

ABS report on Producer Price Indexes for services sector

On 18 April the Australian Bureau of Statistics will launch a new quarterly publication, Producer Price Indexes for Selected Service Industries, Australia (Cat. No. 6423.0). It will present quarterly price index numbers for most industries within the transport and storage and property and business services sectors up to the March quarter 2000.

The new publication will contain price index series for important freight transport industries - road, rail, sea and air; property services such as real estate agents and the hire and lease of machinery and equipment; and a diverse range of business services including surveying, computer services, accounting services, market research and cleaning services.

Indexes for additional service industries will be released in the new publication as they are progressively developed under a long term program to extend the scope of the producer price indexes (PPIs) into the increasingly important services sector of the economy.

These service industry PPIs are being developed as part of a broad ABS strategic program aimed at better reflecting the contribution of service industries to the Australian economy. More details on this strategic program are provided on the bottom of this alert.

The main objectives of the PPI development program are to generate additional price index series:
  • to support industry analysis and business applications
  • to assist in improving the quality of the national accounts by providing a wider range of deflators for deriving real measures of economic growth and, in turn, support productivity studies, and
  • contribute to inflation measurement through incorporating the services PPIs within the planned new economy-wide Stage of Production indexes (described in the ABS Information Paper: Producer Price Index Developments, cat. no. 6422.0, released in March 1999).

Development of the new indexes has involved extensive consultation with industry associations and individual businesses to determine the most viable approach. An important consideration is to keep the workload involved in businesses completing their forms to a minimum.

The publication will be boxed in the usual way at the Press Gallery in Canberra.

Background: Producer Price Indexes for Service Industries

The development of the PPIs for service industries is an important part of a broad ABS strategic program designed to provide a range of statistics that will improve the measurement of service industries in the Australian economy.

The program was developed in response to the growth in the relative importance of service industries — which now account for some two thirds of gross domestic product — and the significant interest amongst users in assessing the structure and performance of this sector.

In addition to the development of the service industry PPIs, key components of the program include:

(i) The quarterly survey of inventories and sales which traditionally only collected sales from the manufacturing and wholesale industries, but from March quarter 1999 extended coverage to service industries. Estimates from these industries are currently being evaluated and are intended to be released as experimental estimates later this year.

(ii) Extension of the Economic Activity Survey to provide a more detailed annual picture of financial data for the services sector. The second set of experimental series were released in December 1999 and the first production series is due to be published in December this year.

(iii) The establishment of periodic surveys encompassing many Australian service industries which collect statistics on the nature, structure and operation of businesses. New surveys are added each year and information was collected for the first time in 1998-99 on industries such as employment placement and market research. For the 1999-2000 year, service industry coverage has been extended to include plant and household hire services and veterinarians. Also, the Cultural Industry Survey has been expanded to include a comprehensive number of services contained within the cultural industry.

(iv) The conduct of a survey of international trade services which collects information about the services provided to and received from non-residents. This information is important for compiling Australia's balance of payments statistics. The main types of services presented in these statistics are transportation, travel, communication, construction, insurance, finance, computer and information, royalties and licence fees, other business services and personal, cultural and recreational services.