Digital activity in the Australian economy, 2018-19

This article provides an update on the size, growth and nature of digital activity in Australia for 2018-19.



This article provides an update on the size, growth and nature of digital activity in Australia for 2018-19. These experimental estimates incorporate data from the most recent 2018-19 Supply and Use tables.

The ABS measures digital activity in Australia as the production of:

  • Digital enabling infrastructure, such as computer hardware, software, telecommunications equipment and support services that form and facilitate the use of computer networks;
  • Digital media, which covers digital audio, video and advertisement broadcasting services that can be created, accessed, stored or viewed on digital devices; and
  • E-commerce, which incorporate retail and wholesale services and margins from digitally ordered or platform enabled online transactions.

This article supplements the previous Digital activity in the Australian economy article which provides analysis of experimental data back to 2011-12.

More details on the ABS digital activity framework are covered in the Chief Economist Series.

Digital activity share of the Australian economy

Digital activity value added increased by 1.9% ($1.8 billion) however the digital activity share in the Australian economy reduced by 0.2% due to strong growth in non-digital activities, such as Mining. In 2018-19, digital activity accounted for 5.5% ($101.0 billion) of aggregate value added ($1,826.4 billion), compared to 5.8% ($99.2 billion) in 2017-18 (Graph 1).

In 2018-19, the digital activity share of aggregate value added was higher than 12 industry divisions, but below traditional economic drivers such as Mining (10.6%), Finance (9.0%), Construction (7.9%) and Health (7.6%) (Graph 2).

Mining has the largest share in aggregate value added in the Australian economy. Mining aggregate value added increased by 27.7% ($41.9 billion) in 2018-19, increasing its share of the Australian economy by 1.8%.

The production of the digital products has not been removed from the existing industries for which it is partially embedded. Therefore, the shares add to more than 100% of aggregate value added.

Composition of digital activity in the Australian economy

Within digital activity, the share in production was dominated by demand for Support services (43.8%), Telecommunications (23.7%) and Wholesale e-commerce (17.8%) (Graph 3).

In 2018-19, the Support services share of total digital activity value added increased by 0.7% and the Telecommunications share of total digital activity value added decreased by 1.2%.

Digital activity growth

In 2018-19, digital activity expanded by 1.9% in current price terms, below aggregate value added growth for the total economy (5.9%) (Graph 4).

Within digital activity, the largest increases were in Hardware (6.4%) and Support services (6.0%), which experienced similar growth to the total economy.

Growth in Support services continues to be driven by demand for both computer systems design related services and data processing storage services.

Digital media showed a reduction of 12.5% driven by a decrease in free to air radio and tv broadcasting services, which was partially offset by an increase in internet publishing and broadcasting services.

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