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8175.0 - Counts of Australian Business Operators, 2011 to 2012 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/10/2013   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


OVERVIEW

1 This publication presents counts of Australian business operators sourced from the 2012 Forms Of Employment Survey (FOES) and the 2011 Census of Population and Housing (Census).

2 The Census and the FOES are fundamentally different statistical collections (i.e. one is a census and the other is a survey). The Census relies on Australian households to self-report information on Census night, whereas data collected through the FOES are directly collected by trained ABS interviewers. In addition, there are a range of concepts and methodologies particular to each collection. It is therefore important to separately discuss these and other issues, with specific reference to their use in Counts of Australian Business Operators.


STRUCTURE OF THE PUBLICATION

3 This publication has two Sections.

4 Section One includes data sourced from the 2012 FOES. The data presented describe Australian business operators across a range of characteristics, using counts and proportions. These characteristics provide an indication of the distribution of Australia's business operators and also provide further insight into the characteristics of the businesses operated in the Australian economy. For example, data on industry, geography, and employment are relevant to individuals (i.e. business operators) and the businesses they operate. Where possible, data have also been included for 'non-business operators'.

5 Section Two includes data sourced from the 2011 Census. The data presented describe the distribution of Australian business operators (including small business operators) across a range of characteristics, in terms of proportions. The distribution of these characteristics has also been compared with 'non-business operators' where possible.

6 Together, Sections One and Two provide, on a similar conceptual basis, a comprehensive picture of Australia's business operators. For the purposes of this publication, business operators essentially comprise owner managers of incorporated and unincorporated Australian enterprises, while non-business operators mainly comprise all other employed persons (refer to the Glossary for further information). Further, the data sources used in Sections One and Two collect information in regard to individuals and their 'main job', which further enhances the consistency and complementary nature of the data.

7 Additional information is presented towards the end of the publication, including Explanatory and Technical Notes, an Appendix pertaining to the history of ABS business operator counts, and a Glossary of terms used in the publication.

8 The Explanatory Notes which follow have therefore been separated into two parts. Part A describes data sourced from the 2012 FOES. Part B describes data sourced from the 2011 Census.


PART A:

9 Data Sourced from the 2012 Forms of Employment Survey


INTRODUCTION

10 The statistics presented in Section One of this publication were compiled using data collected from the 2012 FOES. The FOES was conducted throughout Australia in November 2012 as a supplement to the Monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). Respondents to the LFS who fell within the scope of the supplementary survey were asked further questions.

11 In addition to the information presented in these Explanatory Notes, the publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the LFS, which also apply to supplementary surveys. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing which are relevant to both the LFS and supplementary surveys.


SCOPE

12 The LFS is restricted to people aged fifteen years and over and excludes the following people:

  • members of the permanent defence forces;
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the census and estimated populations;
  • overseas residents in Australia;
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants); and
  • Students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, homes for people with disabilities), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in very remote parts of Australia and inmates of prisons.

13 The FOES is a supplementary survey used to further refine this population. The FOES was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded persons living in very remote parts of Australia which would otherwise have been within the scope of the survey. The exclusion of these people will have only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates produced for individual states and territories, except the Northern Territory where such people account for approximately 22% of the population.

14 This survey was restricted to employed people aged fifteen years and over who were not contributing family workers in their main job. Questions were asked about employment arrangements in the main job of all employed people.

15 For the purposes of the data included in Section One of this publication, the business operator population comprises all owner managers of incorporated and unincorporated businesses. It excludes persons who are classified to other types of employment status categories [e.g. employees who do not own businesses (excluding owner managers of incorporated enterprises) and contributing family workers].

16 Non-business operators comprise of people who work for a public or private employer and receive remuneration as wages or salaries. Employees are engaged under a contract of service (an employment contract) and take directions from their employer/supervisor/manager/foreman on how the work is performed. It excludes business operators as well as those persons who are also excluded from the scope of the LFS and/or FOES (as described above).


COVERAGE

17 The estimates in this publication relate to people covered by the FOES in November 2012. In the LFS, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling and hence has only one chance of selection in the survey: See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.


REFERENCE PERIOD

18 The statistics included in Section One of Counts of Australian Business Operators (CABO) and sourced from the FOES were collected throughout Australia in November 2012 as a supplementary to the LFS.


COLLECTION FREQUENCY

19 The FOES has been collected since August 1998, approximately every three years (1998, 2001 and 2004) and annually from 2006 onwards.

20 Refer to the sections below entitled 'Previous Surveys' and 'Next Surveys' for further information about previous and future releases and how these will impact on future releases of CABO.


SAMPLE SIZE

21 Users should note the issues associated with sample size which impact on the estimates in Section One of CABO and sourced from the 2012 FOES.

22 Supplementary surveys (such as the FOES) are not always conducted on the full LFS sample. Since August 1994 the sample for supplementary surveys has been restricted to no more than seven-eighths of the LFS sample.

23 The sample for FOES is a subsample of the 36,803 private dwelling households and special dwelling units included in the LFS in November 2012. The final sample on which estimates are based is composed of 29,655 persons aged 15 years and over who, in November 2012, were:
  • employed;
  • employees;
  • independent contractors; and
  • other business operators.


RELIABILITY OF THE ESTIMATES

24 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:

25 Sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For more information refer to the Technical Note.

26 Non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents and interviewers and errors made in coding and processing data. These inaccuracies may occur in any enumeration, whether it be a full count or a sample. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers and effective processing procedures.


SEASONAL FACTORS

27 The estimates in Section One of CABO are based on information collected in the November 2012 FOES, and, due to seasonal factors, may not be representative of other months of the year.


CLASSIFICATIONS

28 CABO utilises a range of classifications which are also used in the FOES. The FOES uses Australian Standard Classifications where available and appropriate.

29 For example, country of birth data are classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2011 (cat. no. 1269.0). Occupation data are classified according to the ANZSCO - Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, First Edition, 2006 Revision 1, (cat. no. 1220.0). Industry data are classified according to the ANZSIC - Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).


CONFIDENTIALITY

30 The data presented in Section One have been confidentialised to ensure no single individual can be identified. The confidentialising process applied maximises the availability of data without introducing bias to the estimates.


COMPARABILITY OF TIME SERIES

31 This is the second release of CABO. As such, time-series analysis is not possible and users should exercise caution making comparisons with previous sources of ABS business operators data. However, data pertaining to owner managers of incorporated and unincorporated businesses are available through the Forms of Employment and other ABS Labour Force Surveys.

32 The degree of comparability between data presented in Section One of CABO and the 2012 FOES is high. Refer to the section of the Explanatory Notes entitled 'Scope' for further information. As such, users may refer to the 2012 FOES for additional information regarding the independent contractors and other business operators of Australian businesses.

33 Whilst FOES data are considered a suitable source from which to derive counts of Australian business operators, it should be noted that the FOES forms part of the suite of ABS' Monthly Labour Force Supplementary (sample) Surveys, and as such, is subject to sampling and non-sampling error.

34 It is also important to note that the main function of ABS' LFS (including the FOES) is not to collect information on business operators, but is instead focussed on developing high quality estimates of employment and unemployment.

35 Given these conceptual and methodological limitations of FOES data, care has been taken to present the data at relatively broad levels so as to minimise the potential impact of the conceptual and methodological influences described above.


COMPARABILITY WITH MONTHLY LABOUR FORCE STATISTICS

36 Due to difference in the scope and sample size of the FOES (which impacts on estimates included in this publication) and that of the LFS, the estimation procedure may lead to some small variations between estimates provided in Section One of Counts of Australian Business Operators and those from the LFS.


COMPARABILITY WITH THE CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING

37 When comparing ABS Labour Force data (including the data presented in CABO) with Census data, users should be aware of the issue of Census undercount. For further information, refer to the paper entitled Census of Population and Housing - Details of Undercount, 2011 (cat. no. 2940.0).


PREVIOUS SURVEYS

38 The FOES was first conducted in August 1998 then in November 2001, November 2004 and annually from November 2006. Results of previous surveys on employment arrangement have been published in: Forms of Employment, Australia (cat. no. 6359.0) and Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, Australia (cat. no. 6361.0).


NEXT SURVEYS

39 The ABS plans to conduct the FOES again in November 2013.


PART B:

40 Data Sourced from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing


INTRODUCTION

41 The statistics presented in Section Two of this publication were compiled using data collected from the 2011 Census. The Census is conducted every five years and collects a range of demographic, social and economic information from all people and dwellings (excluding diplomatic personnel and dwellings) in Australia on Census night.


SCOPE

42 The 2011 Census aims to count every person who spent Census night (9 August 2011) in Australia. This includes people in the six states, the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay Territory, and the external territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The other Australian external territories (Norfolk Island, and minor islands such as Heard and McDonald Islands), are outside the scope of the Australian Census.

43 People who leave Australia but who are not required to undertake migration formalities, for example those on oil and gas rigs off the Australian coast, and expeditioners to the Australian Antarctic Territory are also included in the Census. They are coded to Off-Shore Statistical Areas Level 1.

44 The only groups of people who spend Census night in Australia but are excluded from the Census are foreign diplomats and their families, and foreign crew members on ships who remain on the ship and do not undertake migration formalities.

45 The Census also includes people on vessels in or between Australian ports and people on board long distance trains, buses or aircraft. People entering Australia before midnight on Census night are counted, while people leaving an Australian port for an overseas destination before midnight on Census night are not. Visitors to Australia are included regardless of how long they have been in the country or how long they plan to stay. However, for people who will be in Australia less than one year, only basic demographic data are available.

46 Detainees under the jurisdiction of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, in detention centres in Australia, people in police lock-ups or prisons, are in the scope of the Census. For the 2011 Census, details will be sourced from administrative data, so only basic demographic statistics such as age, sex and marital status may be available.

47 All private dwellings, except diplomatic dwellings, are included in the Census, whether occupied or unoccupied. Caravans in caravan parks and manufactured homes in manufactured home estates, are counted only if occupied. For the 2006 and 2011 Censuses, unoccupied residences in retirement villages (self-contained) are included. Occupied non-private dwellings, such as hospitals, prisons, hotels, etc. are also included.

48 The business operator population is a subset of this population. Specifically, the business operator population comprises all owner managers of incorporated and unincorporated businesses. It excludes persons who are classified to other types of employment status categories [e.g. employees who do not own businesses (excluding owner managers of incorporated enterprises), contributing family workers, persons not in the labour force, and the unemployed].

49 Non-business operators comprise employees who do not own businesses and contributing family workers. It excludes business operators as well as persons who were not in the labour force or who were unemployed.

50 In order to produce data on the respective business operator and non-business operator populations, the Census Form was structured such that persons aged fifteen years or more were asked if they had a full or part-time job at any time in the week leading up to the Census. Those persons indicating they did, were then asked if they worked for an employer or in their own business in the 'main job held last week' (i.e. the job where the person usually works the most hours).

51 Persons indicating they worked in their own business were then asked if the business was incorporated or unincorporated. These people were also asked whether the business employed people. Responses were classified according to how many people were employed by the business. It is this question about employee numbers which allows ABS to produce data about small business operators.

52 Persons aged fifteen years or more were also asked a series of other questions pertaining to their individual characteristics, such as their occupation, industry, income, place of usual residence and Indigenous status on the Census Form. This allows ABS to match individual business operator and non-business operator records so that data across a wide range of these characteristics can be included in Counts of Australian Business Operators.

53 Persons who provided insufficient information on Employment Type of Person (EMTP) on their Census Form, were excluded from the business operator population. Where EMTP was stated (business operator or non-business operator) but the variable of interest (for example, income) was not stated, the person was included and left as not stated. Analysis revealed that this adjustment caused minimal change to the proportions being derived from the Census.


CLASSIFICATIONS

54 CABO utilises a range of classifications which are also used in the Census. Specifically, Australian Standard Classifications are used where available and appropriate. Examples of these are the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) and the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC). These classifications are used as the basis on which to build Census-specific classifications such as Birthplace of Individual (which uses SACC).

55 Classifications such as these are reviewed on an irregular basis to reflect changes in the Australian social environment. Where an Australian Standard Classification is not available, classifications specific to Census variables have been developed.


REFERENCE PERIOD

56 The Census was conducted on the night of 9 August, 2011.


COLLECTION FREQUENCY

57 The Census is collected every five years.

58 Refer to the sections below entitled 'Previous Census' and 'Next Census' for further information about previous and future releases and how these will impact on future releases of Counts of Australian Business Operators.


RELIABILITY OF THE ESTIMATES

59 The Australian Census is self-enumerated. This means that householders are required to complete the Census form themselves, rather than having the help of a Census Collector. The Census form may be completed by one household member on behalf of others. Error can be introduced if the respondent does not understand the question, or does not know the correct information about other household members. Self-enumeration carries the risk that wrong answers could be given, either intentionally or unintentionally.

60 The data presented in this publication may be subject to non-sampling error.

61 These data are not subject to sampling error as the data represents a complete enumeration of those persons who identified themselves as a business operator. However, users should be aware of the issue of undercount which impacts on Census (estimated at approximately 1.7%).

62 It should be noted that the issue of undercount in the 2011 Census is not an issue particular to the production of business operator counts. It is an issue which relates to Census data per se, and can be associated with the scope, coverage, timing, measurement of underlying concepts and methodologies used in the 2011 Census. The ABS has published an article which examines these issues in more detail.

63 For further information, refer to the paper entitled Census of Population and Housing - Undercount, 2011 (cat. no. 2940.0).


CONFIDENTIALITY

64 The data presented in CABO have been confidentialised to ensure no single individual can be identified. The confidentialising process applied is expected to maximise the availability of data without introducing any bias to the estimates.


COMPARABILITY OF TIME SERIES

65 This is the second release of CABO. As such, time-series analysis is not possible and users should exercise caution when making comparisons with previous ABS business operators data.

66 Data are however available for a wide range of topics from current and previous Census, much of which may be accessed directly from the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>. Users are advised to investigate the comparability of data items over time. A useful resource for these purposes is the Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0).


COMPARABILITY WITH MONTHLY LABOUR FORCE STATISTICS

67 The data presented in Section Two of this publication have been confronted with data from a range of LFS. In most cases, the proportions presented in this publication are broadly comparable with data derived from these surveys. However, users are advised to exercise caution when making data comparisons, and in particular, should consider the scope of each survey before making any comparisons.

68 Users are also reminded of the issue of undercount which impacts on Census estimates. For further information, refer to the paper entitled Census of Population and Housing - Details of Undercount, 2011 (cat. no. 2940.0).


ROUNDING

69 Where figures have been rounded discrepancies may occur between the sum of component items and the total.


PREVIOUS CENSUS

70 Information regarding previous Census may be accessed through the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>.


NEXT CENSUS

71 The next Census of Population and Housing will be conducted in 2016.


FUTURE RELEASES

72 The ABS will assess the user demand of this publication prior to forming a decision on future releases.


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