Digital activity in the Australian economy, 2020-21

This article provides an update on the size, growth and nature of digital activity in Australia for 2020-21.



This article provides an update on the size, growth and nature of digital activity in Australia for 2020-21. These experimental estimates incorporate data from the most recent 2020-21 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 7.8% ($8.6 billion) in 2020-21, compared with a 4.8% increase for the total Australian economy. This growth was driven by increases in online sales from retailers and wholesalers and support services.   

Digital activity accounted for 6.1% ($118.0 billion) of total economy value added ($1,944.8 billion), compared to 5.9% ($109.4 billion) in 2019-20 (Graph 1).

In 2020-21, the digital activity share of aggregate value added (6.1%) was higher than that of 14 industry divisions, but below traditional drivers of economic activity like Mining (11.5%), Health (8.1%), Finance (8.1%), Professional, scientific and technical services (7.7%) and Construction (7.5%) (Graph 2).

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 (42.6%), Telecommunications (20.3%) and Wholesale e-commerce (19.7%) (Graph 3).

In 2020-21, the shares of E-Commerce - Retail in total digital activity value added increased by 1.7% while the share of Telecommunications and Support services decreased by 1.6% and 1.0% respectively.

Digital activity growth

In 2020-21, digital activity value added grew by 7.8% in current price terms, compared to a 4.8% increase in total economy value added (Graph 4).

Within digital activity, the largest increases were in E-commerce - Retail (41.5%), Software (23.2%) and E-commerce - Wholesale (10.3%). E-commerce-Retail and E-commerce-Wholesale growth was driven by growing online trade. The strength in Software was driven by an increase in software publishing services.

Note: These estimates of value added do not include taxes less subsidies on products.

Note: These estimates of value added do not include taxes less subsidies on products.


Some estimates of digital activity have been revised in line with the updates made through the revisions applied to the Australian National Accounts, see the Improved estimates of the annual National Accounts: Results of the 2021 historical revisions for further information. Additionally, revisions have been made to estimates in 2018-19 and 2019-20, resulting from new and updated information.

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