Definition: Business Counts are based on snapshots of actively trading businesses as at June 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register (ABSBR). The ABSBR contains counts and rates of business entries and exits from the Australian economy as well as counts and rates pertaining to the survival of businesses. This count only includes businesses which actively traded in goods or services during the reference period.

Most businesses in Australia need to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN). These businesses are then included on the whole-of-government register of businesses, the Australian Business Register (ABR), which is maintained by the Australian Taxation Office. For a relatively small number of businesses, the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS economic statistics purposes and the ABS maintains its own units structure through direct contact with these ‘non-profiled’ businesses. These businesses constitute the profiled population. This population consists typically of large, complex and diverse groups of businesses.
The methodology used to derive business counts is based on the ABS' best estimate of an average number of employees over the reference year and as such is a more representative view than a cumulative total number of employees throughout the year. A statistical adjustment is applied to the payees data using Business Activity Statement (BAS) wages and salaries and ABS survey information to bring the counts closer into alignment with the target variable (i.e. average number of employees across the financial year). Adjustment factors are calculated, based upon unit record differences between reported employment in ABS business surveys and payment summary information from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). These factors, along with payment summary information form the inputs into the derived employment variable and in turn, the employment size range.
Note:  Due to a change in ABS methodology, care should be taken when comparing data since the 2014 release with earlier releases.
Percentage changes of business counts from year to year reflect entries and exits of business.  It is important to note that the percentage changes also reflect turnover and staffing level changes in businesses.  Therefore, a large percentage change, for example in businesses employing 200+ staff, does not necessarily mean an exit or entry of large firms but may instead relate to changes in staffing levels, resulting in a business being assigned to a different ‘number of staff’ cohort.    

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, Cat. 8165.0. (Jun 2014, 2015 & 2016, released 21 Feb 2017. Jun 2017 data will be available in Feb 2018.)