The National Accounts Program provides quarterly and annual data about the level of economic activity, the pattern of economic growth and the structure of the Australian and State economies within a coherent system of concepts and classifications.
The main clients of the program are: Australian government agencies (in particular the Treasury); the Reserve Bank of Australia; state and territory government agencies (in particular state and territory Treasuries); international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development; economic analysts in the private sector; the media; and academics.
National accounts information is used to: formulate and assess government macro-economic policies, both fiscal and monetary; assist in allocating Australian government funds to state governments; formulate industry development policies; undertake financial and business planning; and facilitate international economic comparisons.
The main outputs of the program are the quarterly publications Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (ABS cat. no. 5206.0) and Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts (ABS cat. no. 5232.0); and the annual publication Australian System of National Accounts (ABS cat. no. 5204.0). Together these publications provide comprehensive measures of Australia’s macro-economic performance and economic structure.
The key series relate to current price and volume measures of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product broken down into its components. In the quarterly publication, most data are published in seasonally adjusted and trend terms. The publications also show estimates for the national income and capital accounts, and sector accounts such as for households and general government. Data on financial transactions, flow of funds and financial balance sheet positions are provided quarterly and complete balance sheets for sectors and the nation are compiled annually. The annual publication also includes a range of economic data by industry as well as capital stock and productivity estimates.
Annual estimates of economic growth for each state and territory are published separately in Australian National Accounts: State Accounts (ABS cat. no. 5220.0). The annual release of Input-Output tables in Australian National Accounts: Input-Output Tables – Electronic Publication (ABS cat. no. 5209.0) tables provide a detailed articulation of the structure of economic production by detailing the flows of products into and between industries and their use for consumption, investment or export.
The program provides seminars, training courses and other information to assist economic analysts in understanding and using National Accounts statistics.
The main medium-term developments in the program are to:
- produce distributional analysis of Household income, expenditure, savings and wealth in the National Accounts framework - due September 2013
- produce a household balance sheet on a quarterly basis - due December 2013
- produce income and capital accounts for all sectors on a quarterly basis - due December 2014
- contribute to international research of topics identified as needing further work during the update of the System of National Accounts, with an emphasis on the concept of income and of capital services - ongoing
- improve the coverage of services industries by increasing the scope of input collections and investigating additional data sources - ongoing
- improve inputs into productivity estimates, taking on board insights gained from the compilation of these estimates - ongoing.
Michael Smedes, Assistant Statistician, National Accounts Branch
Topics @ a Glance - National Accounts
Australian National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods
(ABS cat. no. 5216.0)