This release has ceased

Business Conditions and Sentiments

Insights into Australian business conditions and sentiments.

Reference period
June 2021

Key statistics

  • In June, 27% of businesses reported having difficulty finding suitable staff to fill jobs.

  • Almost one in five (19%) businesses did not have enough staff based on current operations.

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of businesses expect to increase staff numbers over the next three months.

This is the final Business Conditions and Sentiments release. For further information, please see Changes to ABS statistical work program. A summary of question themes included in each monthly release between March 2020 to June 2021 is available in Data downloads.

The June collection was conducted through a telephone based survey between 9 June and 16 June. Victoria was affected by government imposed restrictions during this collection period which took effect from 11:59pm on 27 May. Some restrictions were eased from 11:59pm on 10 June.

In responding to the survey, businesses are asked to provide a best estimate only, without accessing records or reports.

Business size categories used in this release:

  • Small (0-19 persons employed);
  • Medium (20-199 persons employed); and
  • Large (200 or more persons employed).

For information on survey sample, response rates and the questionnaire, see Methodology.

Changes in revenue

Businesses reported on changes in revenue over the last month and expected changes over the next month. This information has been collected each month since July 2020.

Trading conditions and business sentiments related to revenue have improved throughout the financial year. In July 2020, nearly half (47%) of businesses reported decreased revenue over the previous month, compared to less than a quarter (24%) of businesses in June 2021.

Monthly revenue data has weakened between May and June 2021, with a higher proportion of businesses reporting decreased revenue and a lower proportion reporting increased revenue. Some businesses commented that their revenue had been affected by recent lockdowns in Victoria.

(a) Proportions are of all businesses.
(b) Businesses reported changes over the last month.

The proportion of businesses expecting an increase in revenue has been steadily falling between February (27%) and July 2021 (18%).

(a) Proportions are of all businesses.
(b) Businesses reported changes over the last month.
(c) Expectations for the indicated month as reported by businesses in the previous month of collection.

Ability to meet financial commitments

In June, two in five (41%) businesses expect it to be easy or very easy to meet their financial commitments over the next three months. This compares to 23% in August 2020.

(a) Proportions are of all businesses.
(b) The sum of the component items does not equal 100% because businesses could respond 'Don't know' or 'Not applicable'.

Business ability to meet financial commitments over the next three months, by employment size (a)(b)
 Small businessesMedium businessesLarge businessesAll businesses
 %%%%
Easy or very easy41465141
Neither easy nor difficult36313636
Difficult or very difficult1617916
Don't know or not applicable6657

(a) Proportions are of all businesses.
(b) The sum of the components may not equal 100% due to rounding.

    Business ability to meet financial commitments over the next three months, by top industries (a)

    Business ability to meet financial commitments over the next three months, by top industries

    Business ability to meet financial commitments over the next three months, by top industries (a)

    Top industries with businesses that reported it will be easy or very easy to meet financial commitments over the next three months: Financial and insurance services (56%), Rental, hiring and real estate services (52%), Electricity, gas, water and waste services (52%), Transport, postal and warehousing (51%), Mining (51%).
    Top industries with businesses that reported it will be difficult or very difficult to meet financial commitments over the next three months: Arts and recreation services (37%), Wholesale trade (25%), Accommodation and food services (25%) and Retail trade (23%).

    Changes in number of employees

    Businesses reported on changes in their number of employees over the last month and expected changes over the next month. This information has been collected each month since July 2020.

    In June, 8% of businesses reported an increase in their number of employees; and 11% of businesses are expecting an increase in their number of employees in July.

    (a) Proportions are of all businesses.
    (b) Businesses reported changes over the last month.
    (c) Expectations for the indicated month as reported by businesses in the previous month of collection.

    Staff shortages

    In June, 19% of employing businesses reported that they did not have enough employees based on current operations, compared to 12% in March 2021 and 15% in December 2020.

    Businesses in Construction (29%) and Retail trade (27%) were the most likely to report staff shortages.

    (a) Proportions are of employing businesses.

    Factors influencing businesses with staff shortages

    The 19% of businesses that had an insufficient number of employees reported on factors that were influencing the number of staff they had. The most common factors reported by these businesses were:

    • inability to find suitable staff (57%);
    • affordability of additional staff (48%);
    • uncertainty due to COVID-19 (42%);
    • availability of existing employees to work (34%);
    • domestic border closures (19%);
    • difficulty retaining staff (19%); and
    • international border closures (18%).

    (a) Proportions are of employing businesses with an insufficient number of employees.
    (b) Businesses could select more than one response.

    Difficulties finding suitable staff

    More than a quarter (27%) of employing businesses reported that they were having difficulty finding suitable staff to fill jobs.

    Medium (45%) and large businesses (43%) were more likely to report they were having difficulty finding suitable staff, compared to small businesses (26%).

    (a) Proportions are of employing businesses.
    (b) The sum of the components may not equal 100% due to rounding.

    Businesses in Accommodation and food services (38%) were the most likely to report they were having difficulty finding suitable staff to fill jobs. 

    (a) Proportions are of employing businesses.
    (b) Includes repair and maintenance, personal (e.g. hairdressers) and other services.

    The 27% of employing businesses that reported they were having difficulty finding suitable staff provided comments on the types of jobs they were having difficulty filling. The following word cloud presents the types of jobs reported by these businesses. The more common responses are bigger and bolder.

      Word cloud presenting types of jobs for which businesses reported having difficulty finding staff
      Word cloud presenting the types of jobs for which businesses reported they were having difficulty finding suitable staff.
      From largest to smallest, these jobs include: Hospitality Workers, Salespersons, Engineering & Science Professionals, Drivers, Building Trades, Business Professionals, Management, Health Professionals, Chefs & Cooks, Automotive & Engineering Trades, Machinery & Plant Operators, Care Workers, Sports, Personal & Other Service Workers, Labourers, Education Professionals, Clerical Workers, Cleaners and ICT Professionals.

      Factors impacting ability to find suitable staff

      Employing businesses that were having difficulty finding suitable staff reported on factors impacting their ability to find staff.

        Factors impacting ability to find suitable staff (a)(b)

        Factors impacting ability to find suitable staff

        Factors impacting ability to find suitable staff (a)(b)

        Factors impacting ability to find suitable staff are grouped by type of factor.
        Labour supply factors:
        - Lack of job applicants (74%)
        - Applicants don’t have the required skills or qualifications (66%)
        External factors:
        - International border closures (32%)
        - Uncertain economic conditions (22%)
        Job factors:
        - Job location (29%)
        - Type of employment offered (23%)
        - Pay conditions (18%)
        - Working days or hours (13%)
        - Other employment conditions (11%)
        Factors impacting ability to find suitable staff, by employment size (a)(b)
         Small businessesMedium businessesLarge businessesAll businesses
         %%%%
        Lack of applicants for job(s)73837674
        Applicants don't have the skills or qualifications required for job(s)66735966
        International border closures limiting recruitment pool31385132
        Location of the job(s)30212829
        Types of employment offered (c)23181723
        Uncertain economic conditions21252722
        Pay conditions of job(s)17262918
        Working days or hours of job(s)12241713
        Other employment or working conditions (d)125911

        (a) Proportions are of employing businesses that are having difficulty finding suitable staff to fill jobs.
        (b) Businesses could select more than one response.
        (c) For example, permanent, temporary, casual, full-time, part-time.
        (d) For example, working conditions of the job, leave entitlements, flexible working arrangements, superannuation.

        Future workforce actions

        Employing businesses reported on workforce actions they plan to take over the next three months. The top workforce actions businesses planned to take are to:

        • Increase staff numbers (23%);
        • Re-train existing staff (22%);
        • Increase staff hours (17%); and
        • Re-arrange job roles and responsibilities (16%).

        Medium and large businesses were more likely than small businesses to expect to increase staff numbers over the next three months (40% and 45% compared with 22%).

        (a) Proportions are of employing businesses.
        (b) Businesses could select more than one response.

          Top workforce actions, by top industries (a)(b)

          Top workforce actions, by top industries

          Top workforce actions, by top industries (a)(b)

          Top workforce actions, by top industries:
          - Increase staff numbers: Electricity, gas, water and waste services (32%), Mining (29%), Professional, scientific and technical services (28%);
          - Retrain existing staff: Retail trade (42%), Education and training (38%), Other services (37%);
          - Increase staff hours: Transport, postal and warehousing (28%), Arts and recreation services (26%), Accommodation and food services (23%).

          Businesses planning to increase staff numbers

          Almost a quarter (23%) of employing businesses plan to increase staff numbers over the next three months. The majority of these businesses expected the increase in staff would be small (74%) and that most of the jobs would be permanent (61%).

            Composition of increase to staff numbers over the next three months
            23% of businesses plan to increase staff numbers over the next three months:
            - the extent of the increase is expected to be: small (74%), moderate (16%) or large (0%); and
            - jobs are expected to be: permanent (61%), casual (48%) and/or temporary / fixed term contract (21%).

            Data downloads

            Data downloads

            Data files

            Previous catalogue number

            This release previously used catalogue number 5676.0.55.003