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APPENDIX 1 ABS BUSINESS COUNTS
Counts from Characteristics of Small Business (1996-2006)
The ABS first released Characteristics of Small Business, Australia (cat. no. 8127.0) in 1996. This compendium release also included a range of information about small businesses, including counts of small businesses and small business operators.
The decision to discontinue Characteristics of Small Business Operators (COSBO) was driven by the development of superior data sources, and the findings of a methodological review of the 2005 and 2006 COSBO surveys.
The review compared data from the 2005 and 2006 COSBO surveys with data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and a range of Labour Force Supplementary Surveys. It concluded that, while some data items collected continue to provide an ongoing and accurate picture of the changing nature of the Australian small business and small business operator populations, a more consistent picture was provided by the alternate data sources.
Users should note that since the discontinuation of COSBO, the ABS has developed a new publication focussing exclusively on Australian business operators. Counts of Australian Business Operators (cat. no. 8175.0) was first released in October 2008 and again in October 2013 and utilises data from the ABS Census of Population and Housing and the ABS Forms of Employment Survey to present a range of demographic data. Further information can be obtained from the ABS website.
Counts from Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register, Counts of Businesses (2005)
From 2002, the ABS changed the basis of the ABSBR from GE registrations to ABN registrations sourced from the Australian Business Register (ABR). From the introduction of the new tax system in July 2000, businesses required to remit GST, deduct income tax from employees or participate in several other aspects of the tax system were required to register for an ABN on the ABR.
The ABS released experimental estimates of business entries and exits and the first counts from the ABSBR using the ABR in 2005.
The release of Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register, Counts of Businesses (cat. no. 8161.0.55.001) in October 2005 showed 3.0 million businesses operating as at June 2004, 2.9 million of which were small businesses.
These counts significantly overstated the number of businesses actively producing or distributing goods or providing services in the Australian economy for two reasons:
Both categories of businesses, which in combination (noting some overlap) contributed over 1 million to these previously released counts, have been excluded from the counts in this release.
CURRENT ABS BUSINESS COUNTS
Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (2007 to current)
Feedback from users since the 2005 release indicated that counts of actively trading businesses, rather than all entities carrying out economic activity, were more valuable for the various uses to which business counts were being put.
This resulted in the development of Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (cat. no. 8165.0), first released in February 2007.
The counts showed that there were approximately 1.9 million actively trading businesses at that time. The differences between the count of 1.9 million and the count of approximately 3.0 million from the 2005 release was due to the exclusion of:
In combination (noting some overlap) there were approximately 1 million businesses in the above categories.
CABEE was released again in December 2007 and showed that Australia's population of actively trading businesses had exceeded 2 million. A third release of CABEE in October 2010 showed that business counts had dropped slightly, but still remained above 2 million.
In January 2012, a fourth release of CABEE showed that business counts increased over the 2009-10 (3.6%) and 2010-11 (0.4%) years.
In May 2013, a fifth release of CABEE showed that business counts increased over the 2010-11 (0.4%) and 2011-12 (0.4%) years.
The sixth release of CABEE in March 2014 reported a 2.9% decrease in the number of actively trading businesses in Australia during 2012-13.
The seventh release of CABEE in March 2015 reported a 1.0% increase in the number of actively trading businesses in Australia during 2013-14.
The ABS plans to continue releasing CABEE, which is expected to provide users with a regular snapshot of Australia's population of actively trading businesses.
Counts Produced from ABS Business Surveys (1968 to current)
Since 1968, several ABS business surveys, using the ABSBR to provide a survey frame, produced counts of businesses as by product from survey processing.
These counts were consistent with business counts sourced directly from the ABSBR except they were adjusted to account for businesses identified in survey processing as no longer operating. However, the scope of these counts aligned with the scope of the respective surveys.
Therefore, counts of business entities derived from ABS surveys may not necessarily be comparable with the counts of actively trading businesses included in CABEE. Users should refer to the Explanatory Notes of the respective ABS surveys for further information.
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