APPENDIX 1 ABS BUSINESS OPERATORS COUNTS
The following Appendix provides a brief history of ABS business operator counts and discusses planned future developments.
The ABS has been producing business operator counts for many years. These counts have been presented in the form of business demography products, most recently, through this publication, Counts of Australian Business Operators (CABO).
In addition, ABS has been producing data pertaining to owner managers of incorporated and unincorporated enterprises (each being a subset of the Australian business operator population) across a range of other statistical products.
Over time, ABS has been working to improve the quality of business operator counts and has been developing new sources of business operator data.
COUNTS FROM THIS RELEASE
The business operator data presented in this release have been derived from two data sources: the 2007 Forms of Employment Survey and the 2006 Census of Population and Housing.
These data are relevant for users interested in understanding the characteristics of those persons engaged in one or more businesses currently operating within the Australian economy.
The 2007 Forms of Employment Survey was used to derive counts (as well as proportions) of business operators in Australia, while the 2006 Census of Population and Housing has been used as a data source to produce a range of proportions relating to Australian business operators (including small business operators).
The decision to use Forms of Employment Survey data to produce count data was taken following detailed analysis which confirmed that the overall counts derived from the Forms of Employment Survey provided for a more reliable and accurate series of estimates compared with data derived from other sources (including from other Monthly Labour Force Supplementary Surveys and the 2006 Census). Specifically, data confrontation exercises confirmed Forms of Employment Survey data compared well with data derived from a range of administrative and survey sources.
This approach is expected to provide a more stable platform upon which users will be able to access data pertaining to the changing demographics of Australia's business operators over time.
COUNTS INCLUDED IN CHARACTERISTICS OF SMALL BUSINESS
The ABS first released Characteristics of Small Business (cat. no. 8127.0) in 1995. This compendium release included a range of statistics about small business, including small business operators.
As discussed in a Main Features Article released in August 2008, entitled Australian Small Business Operators - Findings from the 2005 and 2006 Characteristics of Small Business Surveys, the ABS has discontinued the Characteristics of Small Business Survey. The Article marked the final release of data from the Characteristics of Small Business Survey.
This decision was driven by the development of superior data sources, and the findings of a methodological review of the 2005 and 2006 Characteristics of Small Business Surveys. The review compared data from the 2005 and 2006 Characteristics of Small Business Surveys with data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and a range of Monthly 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.
Specifically, it was determined that proportions of small business operators derived from the 2005 and 2006 Characteristics of Small Business Surveys closely aligned with proportions from the alternate data sources in respect of: sex of operators; age of operators; (usual) hours worked by operators; birthplace; and number of business operations conducted. These proportions were reproduced in the aforementioned Main Features Article.
While the discontinuation of the Characteristics of Small Business Survey would normally represent a gap in ABS' small business and small business operator statistics, a range of other outputs relating to both of these statistical fields have been, or are currently being, developed. Preliminary analysis of these newer sources suggests that they generally contain more robust data compared to data released from the Characteristics of Small Business Survey.
COUNTS INCLUDED IN OTHER RELEASES
ABS has been producing data pertaining to owner managers of incorporated and unincorporated enterprises (subsets of the business operator population) across a range of statistical products.
Most notably, numerous publications using Monthly Labour Force Survey data (including the Forms of Employment Survey) have included estimates relating to the owner manager populations, disaggregated by a wide variety of characteristics. Many of these characteristics have also been included in Counts of Australian Business Operators.
The ABS plans to next release Counts of Australian Business Operators during the 2012/13 financial year. It is planned to source data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing as well as from relevant Monthly Labour Force Supplementary Surveys (including the Forms of Employment Survey).