Australian Transport Economic Account: An Experimental Transport Satellite Account methodology

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Reference period
2010-11 to 2015-16

Explanatory notes


1 This release presents information on the contribution of transport activity across all industries of the Australian economy. It is adjunct to, and consistent with, the System of National Accounts (SNA08), but presents a more complete picture of transport activity across the economy.

2 While all products and services produced and consumed with respect to transport activity are captured in the national accounts, only activity undertaken by business units categorised in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 2006 (ANZSIC) Division I: Transport, postal and warehousing is explicitly identified as relating to transport.

3 This Australian Transport Economic Account (ATEA) extends the focus of the national accounts to present a more detailed analysis of transport activity using additional information from other transport data sources. It covers both transport activity undertaken in the Transport, postal and warehousing industry, as already explicitly measured in the national accounts, as well as transport activity conducted by entities outside of this industry.

Concepts of transport

4 For the purposes of the ATEA, total transport activity is comprised of:

  • For-hire transport activity, which is that activity undertaken on a fee for-hire basis in the Transport, postal and warehousing industry (Division I), as defined in ANZSIC. This corresponds with transport as it is viewed in the national accounts. It includes, for example, air passenger transport by commercial airlines, or transport of goods by freight transport businesses.
  • In-house transport activity, which is conducted outside of industry Division I. The majority of this activity is own-account (or ‘ancillary’) output, which is not intended for market, and is consumed in the production of the industry’s primary output. An example of this activity is a retail business using its own truck to deliver goods from a warehouse to the retail outlet. In-house transport in this account also encompasses any secondary production of transport activity for market, outside of Division I. For example, where that same retail business then uses their own truck to deliver the goods to the customer for a delivery fee.


5 Broadly, the scope of the ATEA is all transport activity undertaken in the Australian economy, where transport activity is the movement of people or goods from one location to another.

6 The ATEA includes the same industries and products as are in scope of the Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA), with the addition of In-house transport industries and products. Estimates are calculated at the national level only.

7 The ATEA captures In-house transport activity within the four primary modes of transport – Road, Rail, Air and Water, as defined in the ANZSIC (Divisions 46 to 49). Non-transport industries are assumed only to undertake In-house transport activities consistent with those four modes. In-house transport activity therefore excludes postal, transport support and warehousing services.

8 The In-house production of transport services in scope of the ATEA is restricted to the movement of people or freight that could potentially be outsourced to transport units in ANZSIC Division I. As such, Transport activity that cannot be disentangled from the primary production process of the unit is considered out of scope of the ATEA. However, there is no practical way to separately identify this activity, and it is likely that estimates include activity such as that of waste collection services and police and emergency services patrols.

9 To maintain links to the national accounts, transport services provided by households for their own use are not in scope of the ATEA. It is recognised that such information may be useful for analytical purposes and options to include such services will be explored for future issues of this release. Such information, if included, would likely be supplementary to the accounts rather than directly included so as to maintain those links with the National Accounts


10 This account has been produced on an experimental basis, drawing on existing datasets to demonstrate the future potential of such an account. Data sources used were not designed for the purpose of an ATEA, and therefore a number of underlying assumptions have been made, which should be considered in interpreting results.

11 These include the following:

  • For each mode of transport, non-transport industries are assumed to exhibit the same input structure and production function of the Division I industry. For example, In-house Road Transport is assumed to have the same structure as that of the Road transport industry in Division I.
  • All economic activity within Division I is assumed to be For-hire transport. No adjustments are made to exclude secondary activity undertaken within that industry that is not related to the provision of transport services.
  • Division I products have not been used as an input to the In-House Transport industry, as it is assumed these activities will be captured within Division I.
  • Extrapolation of the time series from base year data assumes that the relative use of in-house transport products remain constant over time.

International standards

12 There are currently no international standards or guidelines for developing a Transport Satellite Account, although their development is currently being considered by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

13 The methodology for the ATEA closely follows that of the United States and Canadian accounts, with some variation due to differences in available data sources.


14 The supply and use tables for the Australian economy provide the framework in which transport activity across the economy can be identified. Moreover, they provide the means of calculating transport gross value added (GVA) and gross domestic product (GDP).

15 Supply-use (SU) tables are an integral and essential element of the ABS national accounts. They provide an integrated framework of the total supply of goods and services (collectively “products”) from domestic and foreign producers that are available for use across the Australian economy. Further information on the supply and use framework can be found in the ABS’ Information Paper: Australian National Accounts, Supply Use Tables, 2018 (cat. no. 5204.0.55.014).

16 In broad terms, the ATEA involves reorganising the information in the supply and use tables in a way that is consistent with the ASNA framework and respects the same industries and classifications. In doing so, the ATEA introduces four new In-house transport industries within the supply and use framework – one for each of the four primary modes of transport: Road, Rail, Air and Water.

17 The supply of each of these new industries is compiled by identifying the inputs, both intermediate and primary, used in the production of In-house transport by non-transport industries. Each of these new industries only produces a single output, which is In-house transport relating to the specific mode.

18 These new In-house transport industries thus explicitly capture supply and use relating to In-house transport activity.

Identifying and calculating transport-related inputs

19 Estimates of inputs used in the production of In-house transport are identified from the supply-use tables in three components:

  • Transport related inputs (TRIs);
  • Non-transport related inputs (NTRIs); and
  • Primary inputs (value added components).

20 TRIs, such as fuel, insurance and repairs, are inputs considered essential to transport activity. In the main, these inputs are used solely in the production of transport. An exception is fuel products, which have significant use for other purposes, such as the running of plant and machinery. To account for this, use of fuel specific to transport was estimated using data from Business Transport Activity, Australia (cat. no. 9269.0).

21 NTRIs refer to other intermediate inputs which are used in the production of In-house transport, but are not specific to transport. These may include inputs such as accounting services and office supplies.

22 For the ATEA, the new In-house transport industries are assumed to use the same input structures as those used in producing For-hire transport. NTRIs are imputed based on the ratios of TRI to NTRI in the corresponding For-hire industry, recognising that input structures vary between modes of transport produced.

23 Primary inputs, or value-added components of In-house transport, are calculated using the ratio of each value-added input to total intermediate inputs of the corresponding For-hire transport industry. Value-added components include compensation of employees, gross operating surplus, and other net taxes on production.

Input reallocation

24 Once estimates of In-house transport inputs have been constructed, they are allocated to the new In-house transport industries and products. The use of these new products is also allocated to the industry that originally produced these services.

Taxes and subsidies

25 To complete the picture of transport's contribution to the economy, an estimate of taxes less subsidies on products is required. However, no such adjustment is necessary for In-house transport, as the input-based approach to measurement ensures its supply and use are already valued consistently. In principle, some net taxes on products for secondary production of transport within In-House transport is payable, however it has not been estimated in this account due to its relative insignificance.

26 Taxes and subsidies on any products produced by the For-Hire industries are allocated based on the contribution of each industry to the output of that product. For example, the ‘Rail transport’ industry (ANZSIC subdivision 47) is the sole producer of the product ‘Rail passenger transport services’, so the full values for both taxes and subsidies on this product are allocated to this industry.

Secondary transport production and margins

27 In-house transport activity comprises of three distinct components:

  • In-house transport activity for own use (ancillary production);
  • In-house transport supplied to another institutional unit (secondary production); and
  • Transport margins.

28 As In-house transport estimates in the ATEA have been built up from inputs related to transport activity, they represent all In-house transport activity, regardless of whether it has been supplied to another institutional unit or not. However, where transport activity is undertaken as secondary production, and services have been supplied to another institutional unit, output relating to this activity will already be captured in the supply and use tables. Thus, In-house transport output would be overstated with the introduction of the new transport products.

29 To prevent this overstatement, existing secondary production of transport services and transport margins are removed from the industries in which the activity occurred.

30 On the use side, an adjustment is also made to shift the total value of the transport margins to each of the new In-house transport products – Road, Rail, Air and Water.

Extrapolation across the time series

31 The base year for the time series produced is 2010-11, with figures extrapolated to the following periods based on the movements of values in the supply-use tables.

Impact on supply and use tables

32 The reallocation of In-house transport activity across the supply and use tables brings a transport focus to the national accounts while maintaining alignment with the supply-use benchmarks. While output and intermediate use for the whole economy increases in the supply and use tables, as a result of the reclassification of some intermediate inputs and value-added components to the new In-house transport industries, overall gross value-added and GDP does not change.


Industry and product classification

33 The industry classifications used in this publication follow the 2006 edition of the Australian and New Zealand Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (Revision 2.0) (cat. no. 1292.0), with data produced at the Division level.

Total Transport Gross Value Added (GVA) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

34 Total Transport GVA and Total Transport GDP are the major economic aggregates derived in the ATEA. The concepts are not the same, and it is important to outline the differences between them.

35 GVA represents the “value” a producer adds to the raw material goods and services it purchases in the process of producing its own output. Similarly, Total Transport GVA, as measured in the ATEA, is equivalent to the value of the output of transport products (including both For-hire and In-house transport) by all industries less the value of the inputs used in producing these transport products. Output is measured at 'basic prices', that is before any taxes on transport products are added (or any subsidies on transport products are deducted).

36 SNA 2008, the international standard of national accounts, states that basic price measures are to be used for comparisons between industries and across countries because it is free of the effects of taxes and subsidies on products which can vary between industries (and countries) and over time. The tax and subsidy component of a product's sale price does not represent value added by the industry producing that product Total Transport GDP is a construct of this account to enable a direct comparison with the most widely recognised national accounting aggregate, GDP. While transport GDP is useful in this context, the Total Transport GVA measure should be used when making comparisons with other industries or between countries.

37 Total Transport GDP, measures the value added of the transport industry at purchasers' (market) prices. It therefore includes taxes paid less subsidies associated with the productive activity attributable to transport. In the case of market transactions (the For-hire transport industry), Transport GDP will generally have a lower value than transport value added due to subsidies received for transport. In-house Transport GDP however, is identical to In-house transport GVA, as the input-based approach to measurement ensures its supply and use are already valued consistently.

Data sources

Economic Activity Survey

38 The Economic Activity Survey (EAS) produces estimates of the economic and financial performance of Australian industry, with the purpose of feeding into the National Accounts and several publications, specifically Australian Industry (cat. no. 8155.0).

39 The 2010-11 EAS collected a range of data relating to transport activity undertaken in non-transport industries, with results published in Business Transport Activity, Australia, 2010-11. These data have been incorporated in the ATEA to inform industry use of transport by mode, and transport specific use of fuel. Future ATEA may make greater use of EAS data to consider other expenses including repairs, parts and maintenance, rental, leasing and hiring, and registration fees and transport vehicle insurance.

40 While this account draws on EAS data to inform aspects of In-house transport, results of this experimental account may not be consistent with those published in Business Transport Activity, Australia, 2010-11 . This is due to reliance on supply and use benchmarks in producing this account, which incorporate data from numerous sources and are revised over time. Additionally, the scope of supply and use tables is broader than that of the EAS which further contributes to differences in outputs.

Supply-Use tables (2010-11 through 2015-16)

41 The ASNA SU tables present information on supply and use by detailed product item, based on the S-U Production Classification (SUPC). These tables provide the framework in which ATEA estimates are compiled.

42 This experimental account has been compiled using the 2010-11 through 2015-16 SU tables, as incorporated in Australian System of National Accounts, 2016-17 (cat. no. 5204.0). As such any revisions made subsequent to that release will not be reflected in the ATEA.

Labour Statistics

43 Every employed person has a job, however, because they can have multiple jobs, measures of employment and measures of jobs are conceptually different. It is important to distinguish between estimates of employment and estimates of jobs as conceptually different measures of labour. Household surveys typically estimate employment, such that they provide data on the number of people in the labour force, not the number of jobs in the economy. Further information can be found in the Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001)

Labour force statistics

44 The Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003) publication provides detailed employment related statistics on the sum of employed people and unemployed people in the Australian economy (the labour force). Data on employed persons by industry of main job as per ANZSIC informs a number of employment related statistics in support of this account including transport employed persons by industry, and by status in employment.

45 This experimental account draws on data published in the data in the May 2018 issue. Any revisions made subsequent to that release will not be reflected in the ATEA.

Labour accounts statistics

46 The Labour Account, Australia, Quarterly Experimental Estimates (cat. no. 6150.0.55.001) publication provides labour market related statistics on jobs, persons, labour volume and labour payments within the Australian economy. The Australian Labour Account provides a framework through which existing labour market data from different sources can be confronted and integrated, with the aim of producing a coherent and consistent set of aggregate labour market statistics. Household side and business side data and are confronted to help identify and address gaps and inconsistencies in the source data sets.

47 The Labour Account provides a time series of estimates of the number of employed persons, the number of jobs, hours worked and the income earned for each industry in one coherent framework. Historically, published statistics on employed persons in each industry have only been available for industry of main job. The expanded scope and additional data sources used in the Labour Account includes data for multiple job holders by industry of second, third and fourth job. For the first time, this enables an industry perspective of the total number of people employed in each industry in a time series. Further information can be found in the Technical Note: Uses of the Australian Labour Account.

48 Transport related jobs estimates produced from Labour Account refer to only filled jobs associated with the production of transport activity in the economy across all industries; this does not include job vacancies. Further information on this distinction can be found in the Technical Note: Uses of the Australian Labour Account.

49 This experimental account draws on data published in the data in September 2017 issue. As such any revisions made subsequent to that release will not be reflected in the ATEA.

Quality of estimates

50 While considerable care has been taken to ensure the quality of the estimates in this account, users should exercise some caution in the use and interpretation of the results.

51 This account is experimental in terms of both the method employed and the data sources utilised. It is intended primarily as a proof of concept to demonstrate the potential use and value of such an account.

52 Estimates have been prepared from a range of statistical sources, with differences in coverage, concepts and timing. As such, the accuracy of these estimates are subject to a higher degree of error than that generally pertaining to the broader level estimates published in the national accounts.

53 Employment and productivity relating to transport have been derived from both the Labour Force Statistics and Labour Account Statistics. For productivity measurement, while indexes of actual hours worked are considered to be of good quality, they are published as indexes as levels may be subject to non-sampling error. Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort is made to minimise reporting error by the careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient data processing procedures. Non-sampling error also arises because information cannot be obtained from all persons selected in the survey.


54 Figures presented in this release may be subject to revision as more complete and accurate information becomes available, pending future release of this account.


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