Digital activity in the Australian economy, 2021-22

This article provides an update on the size, growth and nature of digital activity in Australia for 2021-22.



This article provides an update on digital activity in Australia in 2021-22. These experimental estimates incorporate data from the most recent 2021-22 supply-use tables, which have resulted in revisions to previously published data. For further information regarding revisions, see Improved estimates of the annual national accounts: Results of the 2023 historical revisions and Improved annual National Accounts estimates: Results of the implementation of the 2021-22 benchmarks.

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.
  • E-commerce, which incorporates retail and wholesale services and margins from digitally ordered or platform enabled online transactions.

Digital activity share of the Australian economy

Digital activity has remained stable as a share of total value added between 2019-20 and 2021-22, shown in Graph 1.

The value added of embedded digital activity in 2021-22 was concentrated in four main industries – Information, media and telecommunications, Professional, scientific and technical services, Wholesale trade, and Retail trade, as shown in Graph 2. Together these four industries contributed 92.1% of total digital economy value added.

Table 1 also shows the industry shares based off the previous 2022 data and the current 2023 distribution. Collection of data for E-commerce - wholesale changed in 2021-22 to better align with the definition of e-commerce used by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This change resulted in an increase in the values for digital activity value added for E-commerce - wholesale from 2018-19 to 2021-22. A targeted review of businesses in the software design and software publishing industries has resulted in a shift of economic activity between industry estimates and a reallocation of digital activity between Support services and Software.

Table 1 - Industry contribution to digital activity GVA (%), 2020-21 previous and current distribution and 2021-22 current distribution, Current prices
2020-21 Previous2020-21 Current2021-22 Current
J Information, Media and Telecommunications31.032.231.1
M Professional, Scientific and Technical Services30.631.228.8
F Wholesale Trade19.719.421.2
G Retail Trade10.89.211.0
C Manufacturing3.13.13.1
E Construction1.71.81.7
O Public Administration and Safety1.01.10.9
S Other Services0.90.90.9
I Transport, Postal and Warehousing0.30.20.3
K Financial and Insurance Services0.30.30.2

Composition of digital activity in the Australian economy

Within digital activity, output was dominated by demand for Support services (39.8%), E-commerce – wholesale (22.9%) and Telecommunications (18.4%) as seen in Graph 2.

In 2021-22, the share of Support services and Software in total digital activity value added increased by 1.0% and 0.8% respectively, while the share of E-Commerce – wholesale and Telecommunications decreased by 0.9% and 0.7% respectively.

Digital activity growth

Digital activity increased 8.6% ($10.9 billion) in 2012-22, compared with growth of 11.7% for the total Australian economy.

Within digital activity, all sectors increased in size in 2021-22 except for Hardware, which fell 6.5%. The growth was driven by Support services (+11.4%), Software purchases (+25.0%) and online sales from wholesalers (+4.5%). Consumers continued to increase their online shopping habits in 2021-22, with E-commerce – retail growing 12.6%. This followed a significant increase in 2020-21 of 41.8%.

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

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