This is not the latest release View the latest release

Business Conditions and Sentiments

Insights into Australian business conditions and sentiments.

Reference period
March 2021
Released
25/03/2021

Key statistics

  • 46% of businesses expect it to be easy or very easy to meet financial commitments over the next three months, compared to 23% in August 2020.
  • 29% of businesses are accessing support compared to 73% in May 2020. 
  • 19% of businesses expect to increase staff numbers over the next three months. 

This publication was previously named Business Indicators, Business Impacts of COVID-19.

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.

One in five (22%) businesses reported decreased revenue in March and 8% of businesses expect decreased revenue in April.

 

Download

(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

Business ability to meet financial commitments

The proportion of businesses reporting they expect it to be easy or very easy to meet financial commitments over the next three months has doubled since August 2020 (46% compared to 23%).

Download

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

Businesses were most likely to expect it to be easy or very easy to meet financial commitments regardless of employment size.

Download

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

Download

(a) Proportions are of all businesses

Support measures accessed by businesses

Less than a third (29%) of businesses were accessing at least one support measure in March, compared to almost three quarters (73%) of businesses in May 2020.

The support measures most likely to be accessed by businesses were:

  • Wage subsidies (e.g. JobKeeper, Supporting Apprentices and Trainees) (21%); and
  • Renegotiated property rent/lease arrangements (6%).

Small businesses were less likely than medium and large businesses to be accessing support.

Download

(a) Proportions are of all businesses

Expected actions when support measures are no longer available

Businesses accessing support also provided information on actions they expect to take when the support measures are no longer available.

Of the 29% of businesses that reported that they were accessing support, the most likely actions they expect to take once this support is no longer available are to:

  • Seek additional funds (21%);
  • Reduce staff hours (20%);
  • Change quantity of orders of inputs (e.g. stock, raw materials) (15%);
  • Defer or cancel investment plans (13%) and
  • Increase prices (13%).

Factors influencing number of employees

Nearly nine in ten (87%) employing businesses reported that, based on current operations, they have a sufficient number of employees. This is consistent with December 2020 results (83%).

Download
Whether businesses have a sufficient number of employees (a)(b)
 Small businessesMedium businessesLarge businessesAll businesses
 %%%%
Business has sufficient employees87798387
Business does not have sufficient employees12201412
Don't know1031

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

Employing businesses that did not have a sufficient number of employees (12%, compared to 15% in December) reported on factors influencing the number of people they employed.

More than two thirds (68%) of these businesses reported that the main factor influencing the number of employees was the inability to find suitable staff. This compares to 60% in December.

Download

(a) Proportions are of employing businesses with an insufficient number of employees

Future workforce actions

    Top workforce actions employing businesses plan to take over the next three months (a)(b)(c)

    Top workforce actions employing businesses plan to take over the next three months

    Top workforce actions employing businesses plan to take over the next three months (a)(b)(c)

    Top workforce actions employing businesses plan to take over the next three months:
    - retrain existing staff (24%);
    - increase staff numbers (19%);
    - rearrange job roles and responsibilities (17%);
    - outsource work to a third party (16%); and
    - increase staff hours (13%)
    Download

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

      Top workforce actions by top industries
      Top workforce actions by top industries:
      - Retrain existing staff: Education and training (53%), Accommodation and food services (46%) and Arts and recreation services (37%);
      - Increase staff numbers: Education and training (38%), Health care and social assistance (34%), Administrative and support services (32%) and Arts and recreation services (32%)
      - Rearrange job roles and responsibilities: Accommodation and food services (34%); Health care and social assistance (33%) and Administrative and support services (30%).

      Businesses planning to increase staff numbers

      Medium and large businesses were twice as likely as small businesses to report they expect to increase staff numbers over the next three months (39% and 36% compared to 18%).

      Download

      (a) Proportions are of employing businesses

      One in five (19%) employing businesses plan to increase staff numbers over the next three months. The majority of these businesses expect the increase in staff would be small (79%) and that most of the jobs would be permanent (58%).

        Composition and extent of increase in staff numbers
        19% of businesses plan to increase staff numbers over the next three months:
        - the extent of the increase is expected to be: small (79%), moderate (13%) or large (5%); and
        - jobs are expected to be: permanent (58%), casual (38%) and/or temporary / fixed term contract (20%).

        Data downloads

        Data downloads

        Previous catalogue number

        This release previously used catalogue number 5676.0.55.003