Quality declaration - summary
For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.
The Business Indicators publication contains estimates of sales of goods and services, wages and salaries, company profits, and the book value of inventories for private businesses in selected industries in Australia. The series have been compiled from data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in its Quarterly Business Indicators Survey.
The data collected are also used in the compilation of the quarterly estimates of the Australian National Accounts (cat. no. 5206.0) as well as in the formulation of public and private sector decision making.
The publication produces quarterly movement (percentage change from previous quarter) and level estimates for sales of goods and services, wages and salaries, company profits, and the book value of inventories. These are presented through original, seasonally adjusted and trend series, at the industry and state level. A limited number of ratios are also published at the industry level.
The scope of the survey encompasses all private employing and non-employing businesses on the ABS business register which is primarily based on ABN registrations to the Australian Business Register which is managed by the Australian Tax Office. Micro non-employing businesses are not included as it is expected that they would not contribute significantly to estimates.
The survey also excludes public sector businesses (i.e. all departments, authorities and other organisations owned and controlled by Commonwealth, State and Local Government) and the following industries which come under the scope of other ABS publications: Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing; General Government; Life Insurance; Superannuation Funds; and Private households employing staff.
The industries from which the data items are collected have been classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).
The Business Indicators publication is compiled using data from three consecutive months (e.g. January, February, and March) with the release of this information generally occurring on the first Monday of the third month following the end of the reference quarter (e.g. data for the June quarter will be released on the first Monday in September).
The ABS is focused on, and committed to accuracy in all the data it releases. However, like most collections conducted by the ABS the Quarterly Business Indicators Survey is subject to both sampling and non-sampling errors.
The survey is based on a random sample of approximately 16,000 units which is stratified by industry, state/territory and number of employees. All large private sector businesses and other statistically significant units, such as joint venture partners, are included in the sample. However, since the entire population of in-scope private businesses in Australia (approximately 1,000,000 units) is not surveyed, the published estimates are subject to some degree of sampling error, which can be quantified by calculating the relative standard error (RSE) of the estimates.
Annotations are used to identify all published estimates that have an estimated RSE of greater than 10%, and usage recommendations for such estimates can be found in paragraph 2 of the Technical Note (Data Quality) of this publication.
Non-sampling errors may arise as a result of errors in the reporting, recording or processing of the data and can occur even if there is a complete enumeration of the population. It is difficult to measure the size of non-sampling errors, however every effort is made in the design of the survey and development of survey procedures to minimise their effects.
Revisions to previous quarter's data can take place from time to time. This includes replacement of previously imputed data, which is a normal occurrence. Revisions can arise due to a change in the reference year for chain volume estimates, resulting in changes to levels but not growth rates for all periods. A change in the base year can also result in revisions, small in most cases, to growth rates for the last year.
Measures are also in place to account for the four month lag between frame creation and the end of the reference period (i.e. the time between selecting businesses to be surveyed and actually surveying them). Business provisions constitute upward adjustments to the estimates to allow for lags in processing new businesses onto the Australian Business Register and thereby onto the frame.
Most data in the Business Indicators publication are directly comparable across different collection cycles. Changes were made to the publication in the September quarter 2009 including the replacement of the ANZSIC 1993 classification with the ANZSIC 2006, the inclusion of non-employing businesses in the scope of the survey, and the complete enumeration of Unincorporated Joint Ventures (UJV’s). The impact of both of these rounds of changes were measured by conducting parallel but overlapping surveys to link estimates from the old and new survey designs and create revised historic series by backcasting the new estimates.
The change of the Telstra Corporation from the public sector to the private sector in November 2006 impacted on the estimates from March quarter 2007. Caution should be taken when comparing data across this period. For more information please see Information Paper: Future Treatment of Telstra in ABS Statistics, 2007 (cat. no. 8102.0).
The data presented in the Business Indicators publications are also broadly comparable with other statistics produced by the ABS. In particular, data collected are used in the compilation of the quarterly estimates of the Australian National Accounts (cat. no. 5206.0). For further details see Australian System of National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5216.0).
However, there are some differences between the statistics in this publication and the corresponding statistics in the quarterly Australian National Accounts which are outlined in paragraph 27 of this publication’s Explanatory Notes.
The estimates for sales of goods and services by the Retail trade industry in this publication will also differ from turnover estimates presented in Retail Trade, Australia (cat. no. 8501.0) which reports monthly estimates of the value of turnover of retail businesses. The two surveys differ in their inclusion of the Goods and Services Tax as well as their classification of certain businesses and their sample. These differences are further outlined in paragraph 28 of the Explanatory Notes.
The major series estimates for this collection are available in original, seasonally adjusted and trend series. An explanation of seasonal and trend measures with regards to the Business Indicators publication can be found in paragraphs 17 to 22 of the Explanatory Notes.
The Explanatory Notes and the Technical Note (Data Quality) are also good sources for information about the structure, scope, methodology and different measures used in the survey. More detail on the changes that were made to the publication in 2009 can be found in Information Paper: Changes to Business Indicators Statistics (cat. no. 5676.0.55.002).
An explanation of how Business Indicators estimates contribute to the Australian National Accounts can be found in Australian System of National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5216.0).
Business Indicators (cat. no. 5676.0) is available from the ABS website as an electronic version of the Summary data and Explanatory Notes, and as downloadable Excel data files for time series data.