Microdata and TableBuilder: Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment, BLADE

Combines administrative and business tax data to provide a better understanding of the characteristics of Australian businesses

Using BLADE

Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (BLADE) combines business tax data information from ABS surveys and other administrative data over time to provide a better understanding of Australian businesses and the economy. The ABS is an Accredited Integrating Authority, and additional data sources can be integrated with BLADE for approved projects and subject to agreement from data custodians.

Authorised researchers working on approved projects can use BLADE data to study how businesses fare over time and the factors that drive performance, innovation, job creation, competitiveness, and productivity. BLADE demonstrates how combining existing public data can help to deliver evidence based policy making.

You can use this data in: 

  • DataLab - analyse detailed microdata
  • TableBuilder - produce your own tables and graphs

Compare data services to see what's right for you or Apply for access.

Data and file structure

The file is structured as a single level business file, with businesses defined according to the ABS Units Model level.

Data themes include:

  • Business identifiers, such as Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA), Type of Legal Organisation (TOLO) and Alive status.
  • Australian business taxation
  • Business characteristics
  • Research and development expenditure
  • Economic activity
  • Intellectual property
  • Energy, water and environment
  • Merchandise trade

The data themes listed above are not available in all products. Use the data item list in the Data downloads section to confirm which dataset includes what you need for your research before applying for access.

Using TableBuilder

TableBuilder User Guide

This page provides information about Businesses in Australia, 2018-19 TableBuilder. The TableBuilder user guide provides information on how to create basic tables, custom graphs, graphs and large tables. It also includes practical examples and video tutorials.

Data available

The Businesses in Australia, 2018-19 TableBuilder, contains all businesses that were active in the Australian economy in the 2018-19 financial year. The data are sourced from the ABS’ integrated product, the Business Longitudinal Data Analysis Environment (BLADE) which combines taxation and other administrative data.

Data is sourced from four different administrative sources: 

  • ABS Business Register
  • Australian Taxation Office - Business activity statements (BAS)
  • Australian Taxation Office - Pay as you go (PAYG) data
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Merchandise trade data

Data items available are:

  • Demographics such as main State or Territory of operation, Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) and Type of Legal Organisation (TOLO)
  • Importer/Exporter flag
  • BAS data items including Total Sales and Total Wages, Salaries and Other Payments

The TableBuilder data item list is available in the Data downloads section.

Financial data items

Financial data items are available in ranges only, with all items sourced from BAS presented in quintiles, Total Sales is available in both quintiles and an alternative set of ranges. These data items cannot be used together to ensure confidentiality.

Confidentiality

A confidentiality process called perturbation is applied to the data in TableBuilder to avoid releasing information that may lead to the identification of individuals, families, households, dwellings or businesses. See confidentiality in the TableBuilder user guide.

Weights

The microdata in the BLADE TableBuilder product is the full population of live and in-scope businesses. No weighting is applied to this dataset.

Data downloads

Businesses in Australia, 2018-19: TableBuilder data item list

Quality declaration

Institutional environment

Information is available about: 

  • the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Institutional Environment, including the legislative obligations, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations
  • the ABS and its role as an Integrating Authority Accreditation under the Commonwealth Data Integration Interim Arrangements

BLADE microdata are released in the ABS DataLab and TableBuilder, in accordance with the conditions specified in the Census and Statistics (Information Release and Access) Determination 2018 made under the Census and Statistics Act 1905. This ensures that confidentiality is maintained whilst enabling micro level data to be released.

Relevance

The Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (BLADE) combines administrative, business tax and survey data to provide a better understanding of the characteristics of Australian businesses and the economy. The data is used to study how businesses fare over time and the factors that drive performance, innovation, job creation, competitiveness and productivity.

BLADE detailed microdata

The BLADE microdata contains approximately 9.3 million records, which represent all businesses that have been active at one time in the Australian economy over the period 2001-02 to 2018-19 and are in the scope of the ABS's Business Register. This frame (list of all businesses) data is created by integrating datasets from the ABS, Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and other agencies. The specific sources used to create BLADE are:

  • ABS Business Register
  • Business Activity Statement
  • Pay As You Go
  • Business Income Tax
  • Business Characteristics Survey
  • Management Capabilities Module
  • Economic Activity Survey
  • Business Expenditure on Research and Development
  • Private Non-Profit Expenditure on Research and Development
  • Survey of Research and Experimental Development, Government
  • Intellectual Property Australia: Intellectual Property Longitudinal Research Data
  • Department of Home Affairs: Merchandise Trade Data
Businesses in Australia, 2018-19

The Businesses in Australia, 2018-19 TableBuilder product contains approximately 3 million records, which represent all businesses active in the Australian economy in the financial year 2018-19. This data is drawn from the large BLADE detailed microdata product. It contains a subset of data items covering key demographic and economic information.

Timeliness

The BLADE detailed microdata is updated annually, and includes the most recent information for each of the sources available at the time the product is released. BLADE is released in the first half of a calendar year, and includes data for the most recent complete financial year. Information from the ABS Business Register (ABSBR), Business Activity Statement (BAS) and Pay As You Go (PAYG) are released for the same reference period, with the Business Income Tax (BIT) information available up to and including the year previous.

For example, the BLADE microdata available in the first half of 2020 contains ABSBR, BAS and PAYG data for 2018-19, and BIT for 2017-18.

Accuracy

As information in BLADE is sourced from datasets which are created for administrative purposes. Accuracy may be impacted by one or more of the following:

  • no (or very minimal) editing is applied to the data over and above what was conducted on the source datasets by data custodian agencies
  • differences in conceptual definition of similar concepts (eg. BAS and PAYG both include information relating to wages paid)
  • dynamic nature of the business population is captured as an annual event, so timing of structural change (eg. cessation, merger) are not captured at a detailed level (ie. the financial year of occurrence only)

Coherence

The data included in BLADE is also used for many other purposes. Australian Government administrative data are used for reporting and compliance purposes by agencies, and ABS survey data is used for the compilation of published information. Output derived from BLADE may or may not align exactly with outputs from individual source data due to the treatments made to produce BLADE as a longitudinal dataset.

Interpretability

When using BLADE in the DataLab it is important to refer to the available Explanatory Notes to understand the methodology used to integrate the data, any limitation on certain data items and how to correctly use the various datasets that are available.

Limited information about individual data items is available in the Data Item List. For more detailed information visit the relevant agency website.

Accessibility

The Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment can be accessed through TableBuilder and the DataLab. BLADE has been released to all registered users in TableBuilder as a free product. DataLab is available to approved researchers. See How to apply for more information.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 8178.0