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APPENDIX 2 ABS BUSINESS OPERATORS COUNTS
Counts included in Characteristics of Small Business (1995-2006)
The ABS first released Characteristics of Small Business (cat. no. 8127.0) in 1995. This compendium release also included a range of information about small businesses, including counts of small businesses and small business operators.
The decision to discontinue Characteristics of Small Business Operators (COSBO) was driven by the development of superior data sources, and the findings of a methodological review of the 2005 and 2006 COSBO surveys. The review compared data from the 2005 and 2006 COSBO surveys with data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and a range of Labour Force Supplementary Surveys. It concluded that, while some data items collected continue to provide an ongoing and accurate picture of the changing nature of the Australian small business and small business operator populations, a more consistent picture was provided by the alternate data sources.
Users should note that since the discontinuation of COSBO, the ABS has developed a publication focussing exclusively on Australian business operators. Counts of Australian Business Operators (cat. no. 8175.0) first released in October 2008 and utilises data from the ABS Census of Population and Housing and the ABS Forms of Employment Survey (FOES) to present a range of demographic data. Further information can be obtained from the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>.
Counts from Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register, Counts of Businesses (2005)
From 2002, the ABS changed the basis of the ABSBR from GE registrations to ABN registrations sourced from the Australian Business Register (ABR). From the introduction of the new tax system in July 2000, businesses required to remit GST, deduct income tax from employees or to participate in several other aspects of the tax system were required to register for an ABN on the ABR.
The ABS released experimental estimates of business entries and exits and the first counts from the ABR based ABSBR in 2005.
The release of Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register, Counts of Businesses (cat. no. 8161.0.55.001) in October 2005 showed 3.0 million businesses operating as at June 2004, 2.9 million of which were small businesses.
These counts significantly overstated the number of businesses actively producing or distributing goods or providing services in the Australian economy for two reasons:
Both categories of businesses, which in combination (noting some overlap) contributed over 1 million to these previously released counts, have been excluded from the counts in this release.
CURRENT ABS BUSINESS COUNTS
Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits
Feedback from users since the 2005 release indicated that counts of actively trading businesses, rather than all entities carrying out economic activity, were more valuable for the various uses to which business counts were being put.
This resulted in the development of Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (cat. no. 8165.0), first released in February 2007.
The counts showed that there were approximately 1.9 million actively trading businesses at that time. The differences between the count of 1.9 million and the count of approximately 3.0 million from the 2005 release was due to the exclusion of:
In combination (noting some overlap) there were approximately 1 million businesses in the above categories.
Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (CABEE) was released again in December 2007 and showed that Australia's population of actively trading businesses had exceeded 2 million. A third release of CABEE in October 2010 showed that business counts had dropped slightly, but still remained above 2 million.
In January 2012, a fourth release of CABEE showed that business counts increased over the 2009-10 (3.6%) and 2010-11 (0.4%) years.
In May 2013, a fifth release of CABEE showed that business counts over the 2011-12 (0.4%) year.
The ABS plans to continue releasing CABEE. The publication is expected to provide users with a regular snapshot of Australia's population of actively trading businesses.
Counts Produced from ABS Business Surveys (1968 to current)
Since 1968, several ABS business surveys, using the ABSBR to provide a survey frame, produced counts of businesses as by product from survey processing.
These counts were consistent with business counts sourced directly from the ABSBR except they were adjusted to account for businesses identified in survey processing as no longer operating. However, the scope of these counts aligned with the scope of the respective surveys.
Therefore, counts of business entities derived from ABS surveys may not necessarily be comparable with the counts of actively trading businesses included in CABEE. Users should refer to the Explanatory Notes of the respective publications for further information.
PERSPECTIVES ON REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: BUSINESS OWNERS IN REGIONS, 2011 (CAT. NO. 1380.0.55.008)
This publication analyses two sources of regional data about business owners - the Census of Population and Housing and Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas. There are, however, major differences between the two collections, including differences in definitions and timing, which are important to consider when interpreting the data.
This publication focusses on the group of self-employed people who own unincorporated businesses, the regions they live in, the industries they work in and the income they earn from their businesses. There are two sources of regional data about business owners - the Census of Population and Housing and Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas. There are, however, major differences between the two collections, including differences in definitions and timing, which are important to consider when interpreting the data.
Owners of unincorporated businesses represent a small but distinct category of regional labour markets and understanding this group can provide useful information for regional planners and policy makers who seek to address regional employment and economic issues.
Across Australia, more than one in every seven (15%) income earners earned some income from an unincorporated business in 2009-10. In some regions, however, including rural regions in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales, business owners made up over a quarter of income earners. On average, people tended to earn much less from an unincorporated business than from all sources of income. Census data indicates that less than half of the people who earned income from an unincorporated business did so as their main job. Of the people who ran an unincorporated business as their main job in 2011, approximately two-thirds of them (66%) were male and their median age was 47, about 7 years older than the average worker. Business owners who ran their business as a main job tended to work in construction, agriculture, forestry and fishing (especially business owners outside of the greater capital cities), and professional, scientific and technical services (especially those in the greater capital cities).
COUNTS INCLUDED IN OTHER RELEASES
ABS has been producing data pertaining to owner managers of incorporated and unincorporated enterprises (subsets of the business operator population) across a range of statistical products.
Most notably, numerous publications using Monthly Labour Force Survey data (including the Forms of Employment Survey) have included estimates relating to the owner manager populations, disaggregated by a wide variety of characteristics. Many of these characteristics have also been included in Counts of Australian Business Operators.
The ABS will assess the user demand of this publication prior to forming a decision on future releases.
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