8165.0 - Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, June 2014 to June 2018 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/02/2019   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All



Statistics presented in this release have been derived using a combination of data collected directly by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905, tax data supplied to the Australian Statistician by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) under the Taxation Administration Act 1953 and Australian Business Register (ABR) data supplied by the Registrar under A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999. The Taxation Administration Act 1953 requires that such data are only used for the purpose of administering the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 requires that such data are only used for the purpose of carrying out functions of the ABS.

For information on the institutional environment of the ABS, including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


This statistical release presents counts of Australian businesses, sourcing data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register (ABSBR). It includes information on the entry, exit, growth and survival rates of businesses.

The scope includes all actively trading businesses that were operating in the Australian economy as at June 2014, June 2015, June 2016, June 2017 and June 2018. It is important to note that entities which are not considered to be actively trading in the market sector are not considered to be businesses and, as such, are excluded from the counts. Please refer to the Explanatory Notes for further information.

Actively trading businesses are:

  • type of activity units (TAUs) from the profiled population (where activity is monitored by direct contact by ABS)
  • Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) from the non-profiled population, that are actively remitting in respect of a Goods and Services Tax (GST) tax role.

Limiting the scope only to businesses with a GST role means that only entities which are actively trading in goods or services are included. Businesses that have not submitted a Business Activity Statement (BAS) and/or have reported zero dollar amounts over five consecutive quarters (or three years in the case of annual remitters) are treated as long-term non–remitters (LTNRs). As these businesses are not actively remitting GST, they are considered not to be actively trading and are therefore excluded from counts.

This release includes businesses classified by:


Data were extracted from the ABSBR to provide a snapshot of actively trading businesses in June 2014, June 2015, June 2016, June 2017 and June 2018 and were released on 21 February 2019, approximately eight months after the end of the reference period. The next release of Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (cat. no. 8165.0) is currently scheduled for February 2020.


The counts in this release are intended to provide an accurate measure of actively trading businesses, that is, businesses that are producing or distributing goods or providing services (defined by a GST role) and are active (defined as having remitted GST within the past five quarters or three years in the case of annual remitters).

For non-profiled businesses, most classificatory data items reflect information provided to the ATO at the time of ABN registration. The exceptions are the payees information which is updated quarterly by the ATO, and employment and turnover, which is based on BAS reporting. In the profiled population, classificatory data items are updated based on significance and priority, including as a result of ABS survey feedback or other maintenance activity.

Counts in this release are subject to non–sampling error, and the cyclical administrative workflows of the ATO may impact on data interpretability. Non–sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, editing and processing the data. Every effort was made to minimise non–sampling error by reviewing editing strategies and efficient data processing procedures. The counts are not subject to sampling error as they represent a complete enumeration of economically active businesses on the ABSBR.

There are six known sources of error in these counts that are likely to impact on the number of actively trading businesses reported. However, the ABS believes that these sources of error are likely to have a relatively small impact on the accuracy of the business counts contained in this release. For further information please refer to the Explanatory Notes.


An important definitional change introduced in the June 2007 to June 2011 release of Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (cat. no. 8165.0) resulted in a break in series with earlier releases. The scope of this release was changed to better reflect Australia's actively trading business population, and as such, it was necessary to rebase the publication tables and datacubes to 2007. As a result, the counts presented in this release are not comparable with the releases from 2007 and earlier. For further information, please see the Notes document linked to the left hand navigator box in the Summary tab of the June 2007 to June 2011 release.

The scope of this release is also significantly different to previously released (and now discontinued) ABS business counts publications:
In particular, this release only includes businesses that actively traded in goods or services during the reference period.


This release continues to provide business counts by selected demographics including industry, geography, institutional sector, type of legal organisation and business size. Business size data is provided by selected annual turnover and employment size ranges. These (employment) data indicate that most Australian businesses are small and that most of Australia's small businesses do not employ any staff. This means the counts in this release are heavily influenced by the entry and exit of businesses within Australia's small business sector. Therefore, this should be considered when comparing the data with other ABS statistics.

Estimates of the number of businesses operating in the Australian economy may be derived from a number of sources within the ABS or from non-ABS sources. They may relate to a point in time, or may be average annual data. These estimates will not always show the same results. Variations occur because of the differing data sources, differing definitions of a business, differing scope and coverage as well as variations due to sampling and non-sampling errors. The definition of employing/non-employing in the ABS can also vary according to collection methodology, data sources, and user requirements.

Further information about scope and coverage, terminology and other technical aspects associated with these statistics can be found in documents linked to the left hand navigator box in the Summary and Explanatory Notes tabs of ABS cat. no. 8165.0.


Data and metadata are published on the ABS website in Excel spreadsheet and HTML webpage formats.

If the information you require is not available as a standard product, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request and for a charge. Please contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.