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.

Annual turnover values are based on data reported to the ATO through Business Activity Statements (BASs) and includes imputation for missing periods for all businesses in the Non-profiled population. For businesses in the Profiled population, turnover reported on BAS for ABNs is aggregated to Enterprise (EN) level and is apportioned to the relevant types of activity units.

Where businesses report zero values on their BAS or have failed to report at all, these data are compared with auxiliary BAS data, which are then used for the purposes of assigning annual turnover values for each in scope business. In cases where auxiliary BAS data are not available, an imputation based on auxiliary ABSBR data (including wages and salaries and employment data) is used.

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.)