Economic Indicators on the Internet


Current Issues

Economic Indicators on the Internet

E-Brief: Online Only issued September 2001; updated 18 September 2008

Guy Woods, Senior Researcher
Statistics and Mapping Section

Introduction

Economic statistics regularly dominate the daily news reports. These statistics provide information about economic and financial trends. They can influence investment decisions, the exchange rate, interest rates and public policy. The information they provide is considered vital to the sound management of the economy. This e-brief will provide a guide to some of the major economic indicators, who produces them and where they can be found.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is the main source of economic statistics in Australia. It publishes data on a regular basis about prices, wages, economic growth, trade, labour market and investment. Its web site provides access to its publications and data, free of charge, on the day of publication. The Key National Indicators page provides a one page summary of the latest data.

All ABS economic indicators are released at 11.30 a.m Australian Eastern Standard Time. The information on the Key National Indicators page is updated shortly afterwards. Information about expected release dates for the current and following six months can be found at the Release Advice page.

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Reserve Bank of Australia

The Reserve Bank of Australia provides a range of statistics including exchange rates, official interest rates and other financial statistics. Other useful statistics at this site include the Bank’s historical time series of economic data, going back to 1949, and the monthly Reserve Bank Bulletin.

Other indicators in the news

Apart from the ABS and RBA there are many institutions in the public and private sector that provide statistical research into the state of the economy. Links to some of these leading indicators are listed in the following sections.

Labour market

The Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) provides a number of statistical publications about the labour market.

The Labour Market Analysis section in the Department publishes labour market projections in its Leading Indicator of Employment. The section also provides data on Small Area and Regional Labour Markets.

The DEEWR's Vacancy Report is a monthly report that provides information on vacancy rates in general and the skilled vacancy rate.

The Workplace Relations Division of the DEEWR publishes a quarterly guide to Trends in Federal Enterprise Bargaining.

The executive recruitment firm Hudson publishes a monthly report, The Hudson Report, which tracks employers recruitment intentions.

Executive salary surveys are conducted by the Australian Institute of Management and Mercer. The amount of free information from these surveys is limited.  The sites mostly provide information about the products.

The ANZ Bank publishes a monthly indicator on the state of the job market with its monthly ANZ Job Advertisement Series.

Business confidence and outlook

Business confidence is a useful indicator of expected economic trends in the short to medium term. There are several surveys that attempt to ascertain the state of this important economic indicator.

The Sensis Business Index tracks sentiment in the small to medium business sector.  It also has a report that tracks e-Business trends in this sector.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) publishes a number of quarterly surveys. These include the National Survey of Business Expectations, the Survey of Industrial Trends, the Survey of Investor Confidence and the Small Business Survey. Between them these provide insights into the expectations of general business, small business, manufacturers and investors.

The business software services company, MYOB, produces a regular survey of small business operators. This survey provides information on small business confidence and issues relevant to the sector.

The ANZ Bank produces a quarterly Economic Outlook and other reports analysing trends at the state and industry level.

The National Australia Bank (NAB) also publishes a monthly and quarterly survey that presents data on business confidence and outlook.

Westpac and the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (W & MI) publish important surveys of Consumer Sentiment and Economic Activity. 

A monthly experimental gauge of inflation based on the ABS's Consumer Price Index methodology is produced by TD Securities and the Melbourne Institute

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Industry performance

The Australian Industry Group (AIG) produces two monthly industry based surveys. 

There is the Performance of Manufacturing Index which provides an overview of how well manufacturing industries have performed.  The services sector is covered by the Performance of Services Index.

Housing

The Real Estate Institute produces a number of statistical publications on the major markets around Australia.  Its Market Facts and Home Loan Affordability reports provide information about trends in the housing market.  Senators and Members can find all these data at the Parliamentary Library's intranet under the heading Housing data.

International outlook

The Economist provides a weekly round-up of international economic indicators and forecasts.

Monthly Statistical Bulletin

Many of the statistics covered by this guide are published in a compendium of key indicators published by the Statistics and Mapping Section of the Parliamentary Library. This Monthly statistical bulletin comes out at the beginning of each month. The bulletin is available as a printed publication (available in a pdf or html format) and in an electronic version (Monthly statistical bulletin E-Data) which is continuously updated. The electronic version is only available to Senators and Members.

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Further information

The following table provides further information about the timing and content of the indicators mentioned (as well as others that are not available on the Internet). Hard copies of all these publications may also be found in the Parliamentary Library.

Title Publisher

Freq

Contents Month/quarter of Issue Timetable
Australian National Accounts (Cat No. 5206.0) ABS.

Q

Detailed breakdown of national accounts including Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Mar, Jun, Sept, Dec Last Wednesday of the second month following the reference period or first Wednesday of the third month
Balance of Payments and International Investment Position (Cat No. 5302.0) ABS.

Q

Current Account, Capital Account, foreign investment and foreign debt Mar, Jun, Sept, Dec 42 working days after the end of reference period
International Trade in Goods and Services (Cat No. 5368.0) ABS.

M

Monthly balance of trade figures Every month 21 working days after the end of reference period
International Merchandise Trade (Cat No. 5422.0) ABS.

Q

Detailed trade figures by commodity and country Mar, Jun, Sept, Dec 35 working days after the end of reference period
Housing Finance for Owner Occupation (Cat No. 5609.0) ABS.

M

Figures by type of borrower, dwelling, lending institution and State Every month 27 to 28 working days after end of reference period. Not on same day as other indicators.
Private New Capital Expenditure and Expected Expenditure (Cat No. 5625.0) ABS.

Q

Expenditure on buildings, construction, plant and equipment by industry Mar, Jun, Sept, Dec Last week of the second month after end of reference period
Labour Force, Australia, Preliminary (Cat No. 6202.0) ABS.

M

Labour force status of persons 15 and over Every month Generally second Thursday of the month
Average Weekly Earnings, Australia (Cat No. 6301.0) ABS.

Q

Average weekly ordinary time earning and average weekly total earnings Feb, Mar, Aug, Nov 13 weeks after the end of reference period
Consumer Price Index (Cat No. 6401.0) ABS. Q Movement in the retail price of goods and services for capital cities Mar, Jun, Sept, Dec Wednesday of the 4th week after end of reference period
Retail Trade (Cat No. 8501.0) ABS. M Retail turnover by industry sector and State Every month 22 working days after the reference period except for June, Sept, Dec and Mar, which are after 30 days
Building Approvals (Cat No. 8731.0) ABS. M Approvals by number and value for residential and commercial. Every month 22 working days after end of the reference period
Sales of New Motor Vehicles (electronic publication only) (Cat No. 9314.0) ABS. M Sales of new motor vehicles by State and class of vehicle Every month In the third week of the month after end of reference period
Market Facts REIA* M Monthly review of major real estate property markets in Australia Every month Second half of the month
Home Loan Affordability REI & AMP  Q Index of home loan affordability by State and Territory Mar, Jun, Sept, Dec End of second week following the reference period
National Survey of Business Expectations ACCI  Q Survey of business expectations and impressions of business and economic conditions Mar, Jun, Sept, Dec Second month of period preceding reference period
Performance of Manufacturing Index AIG M Survey of manufacturing industries performance Every month First business day of month following reference period
Performance of Services Index AIG M Survey of service industries performance Every Month Third business day of the month following the reference period
Survey of Industrial Trends ACID & Westpac Q Survey of manufacturers business expectations Mar, Jun, Sept, Dec End of first month of quarter
Small Business Index Sensis Q Survey of expectations and impressions of business and economic conditions Feb, May, Aug, Nov Last Tuesday in the first month of reference period
Quarterly Business Survey NAB  Q Survey of expectations and impressions of business and economic conditions Mar, Jun, Sept, Dec Five to ten days after the end of the reference period
ANZ Employment Advertisement Series ANZ  M Survey of job advertisements in major newspapers Every month First Monday of the month except 1st or 2nd of month. Always in the week before ABS labour force data
Hudson Report Hudson Q Survey of business executives and their employment intentions Feb, May, Aug, Nov End of middle month of the quarter
Indexes of Economic Activity W & MI  M Indexes which provide information on present and future levels of economic activity and inflation Every month Third Wednesday of month
Survey of Consumer Sentiment W & MI M Survey of how consumers view their economic prospects and buying intentions Every month Second Wednesday of month

* Real Estate Institute of Australia

For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to Members of Parliament.

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