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Business Conditions and Sentiments methodology

Reference period
June 2021

This publication provides insights into the conditions and sentiments of Australian businesses. Data has been collected since March 2020. 

This release forms part of a suite of additional products that the ABS is producing to measure the impacts of COVID-19 on the Australian economy and society.

For more information refer to https://www.abs.gov.au/covid-19.

How the data is collected

The collection was conducted through a telephone based business survey between 9 June and 16 June 2021.

Scope and coverage

The Business Conditions and Sentiments Survey includes information on the following industries classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC): 

  • Mining (Division B)
  • Manufacturing (Division C)
  • Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services (Division D) 
  • Construction (Division E) 
  • Wholesale Trade (Division F) 
  • Retail Trade (Division G) 
  • Accommodation and Food Services (Division H) 
  • Transport, Postal and Warehousing (Division I) 
  • Information Media and Telecommunications (Division J) 
  • Finance and Insurance (Division K, excluding ANZSIC class 6330, Superannuation Funds)
  • Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services (Division L) 
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (Division M) 
  • Administrative and Support Services (Division N) 
  • Education and Training (Division P)
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (Division Q)
  • Arts and Recreation Services (Division R) 
  • Other Services (Division S)

The scope excludes public sector business units (i.e. all departments, authorities and other organisations owned and controlled by Commonwealth, State and Local Government).

The survey includes Employing and Non-Employing Units on the ABS Business Register. However, micro non-employing businesses are excluded. These are very small units on the ABS Business Register, by standard measures of size.

Statistical unit

The statistical unit used to represent businesses, and for which statistics are reported, is the Australian Business Number (ABN) unit, in most cases. The ABN unit is the business unit which has registered for an ABN, and thus appears on the ATO administered Australian Business Register. This unit is suitable for ABS statistical needs when the business is simple in structure.

For more significant and diverse businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical needs, the statistical unit used is the Type of Activity Unit (TAU). A TAU is comprised of one or more business entities, sub-entities or branches of a business entity within an Enterprise Group that can report production and employment data for similar economic activities. When a minimum set of data items is available, a TAU is created which covers all the operations within an industry subdivision (and the TAU is classified to the relevant subdivision of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC)). Where a business cannot supply adequate data for each industry, a TAU is formed which contains activity in more than one industry subdivision and the TAU is classified to the predominant ANZSIC subdivision. Further details about the ABS economic statistical units used in this survey, and in other ABS economic surveys (both sample surveys and censuses), can be found in Chapter 2 of the Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA) 2008.

Survey methodology

The survey is based on a random sample of approximately 2,000 units stratified by industry and employment size. The final response rate was 64%. 

The survey sample is re-weighted to adjust for non-response and provide full population estimates.

Classification by industry

The Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) has been developed for use in both countries for the production and analysis of industry statistics. For more information, users are referred to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006.

Reliability of the estimates

When interpreting these results, please note that there may be systematic bias in these estimates that statistical procedures would not correct. In particular, estimates may be subject to non-response bias.

Questionnaire

Show all

 
1(a) Is this business currently trading?
 ☐ Yes [Go to Q2]
 ☐ No [Go to Q1b]
  
 (b) Is this due to the JobKeeper Payment scheme ending?
 ☐ Yes [Go to Q1c]
 ☐ No [Go to Q1c]
 ☐ Don’t know [Go to Q1c]
  
 (c) Can you please provide more information about what has happened with the trading of this business? [End of survey]
  
2Does this business employ any staff?
 [NOTE: This includes all employees on the books and not currently working]
 ☐ Yes
 ☐ No
  
 [NOTE: Businesses are not required to check records for the following questions]
3(a) Over the past month, has revenue increased, decreased or stayed the same?
 [NOTE: Revenue refers to income generated from the sale of goods or services]
 ☐ Increased
 ☐ Decreased
 ☐ Stayed the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
 (b) And over the next month, do you expect revenue will increase, decrease or stay the same?
 [NOTE: Revenue refers to income generated from the sale of goods or services]
 ☐ Increase
 ☐ Decrease
 ☐ Stay the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
 (c) Over the past month, have operating expenses increased, decreased or stayed the same? 
 [NOTE: Operating expenses refers to expenses incurred in undertaking normal business operating activities. Examples include payroll, rent, inventory cost, marketing and insurance]
 ☐ Increased
 ☐ Decreased
 ☐ Stayed the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
 (d) And over the next month, do you expect operating expenses will increase, decrease or stay the same?
 [NOTE: Operating expenses refers to expenses incurred in undertaking normal business operating activities. Examples include payroll, rent, inventory cost, marketing and insurance]
 ☐ Increase
 ☐ Decrease
 ☐ Stay the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
 (e) Over the past month, have the number of employees increased, decreased or stayed the same?
 ☐ Increased
 ☐ Decreased
 ☐ Stayed the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
 (f) And over the next month, do you expect the number of employees will increase, decrease or stay the same? 
 ☐ Increase
 ☐ Decrease
 ☐ Stay the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
4Over the next 3 months, how difficult or easy will it be for this business to meet its financial commitments? Will it be…
 [NOTE: Financial commitments include any debts or regular payments that must be made by the business]
 ☐ Very difficult
 ☐ Difficult
 ☐ Neither difficult nor easy
 ☐ Easy
 ☐ Very easy
 ☐ Not applicable as my business does not have any financial commitments over the next three months
 ☐ Don't know
  
 NOTE: Questions 5 to 7 are answered by employing businesses only (i.e. those that selected 'yes' to Question 2)
5(a) Based on current operations, does the business have a sufficient number of employees?
 ☐ Yes [Go to Q6a]
 ☐ No [Go to Q5b]
 ☐ Don’t know [Go to Q6a]
  
 (b) You indicated the business does not have a sufficient number of employees. Are any of the following factors influencing how many staff this business currently has? (select all that apply)
 ☐ Availability of existing employees to work
 ☐ Inability to find suitable staff
 ☐ Difficulty retaining staff
 ☐ International border closures (e.g. can’t get staff from overseas)
 ☐ Domestic border closures (e.g. can’t get staff from interstate)
 ☐ Affordability of additional staff 
 ☐ Uncertainty due to COVID-19
 ☐ Are there any other factors that are influencing how many staff this business has?
  
6(a) Is this business having difficulties finding suitable staff to fill any jobs?
 ☐ Yes [Go to Q6b]
 ☐ No [Go to Q7a]
 ☐ Don’t know [Go to Q7a]
  
 (b) Can you tell me which jobs this business is having difficulty finding suitable staff for?
  
 (c) With regards to these jobs, are any of the following factors impacting this business’s ability to find suitable staff? (select all that apply)
 ☐ Location of the job(s) 
 ☐ Lack of applicants for job(s) 
 ☐ Applicants don’t have the skills or qualifications required for job(s) 
 ☐ International border closures limiting the recruitment pool 
 ☐ Pay conditions of the job(s) such as salary/remuneration 
 ☐ Types of employment offered such as permanent/temporary, casual, full-time, part-time 
 ☐ Working days/hours of the job(s) such as shift work, weekend work, number of hours, overtime 
 ☐ Other employment or working conditions of the job(s) such as leave entitlements, flexible working arrangements, superannuation 
 ☐ Uncertain economic conditions 
 ☐ Are there any other factors impacting this business’s ability to find suitable staff? 
  
7(a) Over the next 3 months, does the business plan to take any of the following actions in relation to its workforce? (select all that apply)
 ☐ Increase staff numbers [Go to Q7b] 
 ☐ Reduce staff numbers [End of survey]
 ☐ Increase staff hours [End of survey]
 ☐ Reduce staff hours [End of survey]
 ☐ Outsource work to a third party [End of survey]
 ☐ Re-train existing staff [End of survey]
 ☐ Rearrange job roles and responsibilities [End of survey]
 ☐ Are there any other actions the business plans to take in relation to its workforce over the next 3 months? [End of survey]
  
 (b) You indicated the business plans to increase staff numbers over the next three months. How would you describe the expected increase in staff numbers over the next 3 months? Will the increase be…
 ☐ Large
 ☐ Moderate
 ☐ Small
 ☐ Don’t know
  
 (c) You indicated the business plans to increase staff numbers over the next 3 months. Will the jobs be…
 [NOTE: Includes both full-time and part-time employees]
 ☐ Permanent
 ☐ Casual (e.g. casual employees usually receive a higher rate of pay to compensate for the lack of paid leave entitlements)
 ☐ Temporary or fixed term contract