This data presents small businesses in Australia according to their regional or metropolitan area classification, focusing on numbers, location and size.

Key findings

  • Of the 2.3 million small businesses in Australia, 69% (1.6 million) were located in a greater capital city area and 31% in a regional area.
  • Queensland and Tasmania had the greatest proportions of small businesses located in regional areas.
  • The number of small businesses increased in all states and territories in the year to 30 June 2021. These rises were spread across capital city and regional areas.

Chart 1: Small Business by location, 30 June 2021

Chart 1: Small Business by location, 30 June 2021

Excludes businesses not registered for GST. “Other” is comprised of a small number of businesses where information is only available at the state/territory level.

Source: Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics, customised data.

Of the 2.3 million small businesses in Australia, 1.6 million (69%) are located in the greater capital city areas and 31% (716,609) in regional areas on 30 June 2021. This closely reflects the split of the Australian population, with 67%[1] of all Australians living in the greater capital city areas.

 

Chart 2: Proportion of small businesses in capital cities and regional areas, 30 June 2021

Chart 2: Proportion of small businesses in capital cities and regional areas, 30 June 2021

Note: This graph does not include the ACT because the ASGS only has one Greater Capital City Area for the entire Territory. Further information on the ASGS is available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Information on regions in the ACT is available on the Australia’s small businesses by region - states and territories page.

Source: Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics, customised data.

As shown in the chart above, Queensland and Tasmania were the only states with a higher proportion of small businesses in regional areas than capital cities on 30 June 2021.


Table 1: Number of small businesses in Greater Capital City Areas, 30 June 2021

Number of employees

Sydney

Melbourne

Brisbane

Adelaide

Perth

Hobart

Darwin

Australian Capital Territory1

Non-employing

320,460

311,220

123,590

73,008

113,280

10,274

6,334

17,260

1-4 employees2

192,685

146,661

62,553

26,749

47,597

4,770

2,913

10,000

5-19 employees

47,323

42,069

20,184

10,283

17,082

2,018

1,288

3,288

Small businesses (0-19 employees)

560,468

499,950

206,327

110,040

177,959

17,062

10,535

30,548

20-99 employees

11,358

10,445

4,770

2,463

4,309

440

331

838

100-199 employees

1,107

940

404

211

342

27

19

70

200+ employees

578

534

198

106

184

12

5

43

Total

573,513

511,863

211,703

112,822

182,795

17,542

10,891

31,499

1 There is only one Greater Capital City Area for the entire Territory. Further information on the ASGS is available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Information on regions in the ACT is available on the Australia’s small businesses by region - states and territories page.

2 This includes a small number of businesses which have income tax withholding roles for purposes other than withholding amounts from wages and salaries (and as such have zero employment).

This data excludes businesses not registered for GST. The Australian Bureau of Statistics adjust cells to avoid the release of confidential information, so cells may not add up to totals. Exercise care when analysing small numbers. For further information see Australian Bureau of Statistics, Counts of Australian Businesses, Including Entries and Exits methodology.

Source: Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics, customised data.

As shown in the table above, there were over 1.6 million small businesses in greater capital city areas on 30 June 2021. Two-thirds of these were in Greater Sydney and Greater Melbourne.


Table 2: Number of small businesses in regional areas, 30 June 2021

 

Regional NSW

Regional Vic

Regional Qld

Regional SA

Regional WA

Regional Tas

Regional NT

Other Territories1

Non-Employing

133,136

82,164

145,926

21,711

26,962

13,356

2,012

1,608

1-4 employees2

73,418

40,838

70,518

9,367

12,843

6,264

920

128

5-19 employees

24,888

14,006

23,991

3,977

5,245

2,726

593

12

Small businesses (0-19 employees)

231,442

137,008

240,435

35,055

45,050

22,346

3,525

1,748

20-99 employees

4,633

2,688

5,301

623

1,137

586

148

5

100-199 employees

277

185

359

38

50

33

7

0

200+ employees

116

95

173

11

23

20

6

0

Total

236,460

139,980

246,262

35,725

46,262

22,982

3,684

1,754

1 Businesses in Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Jervis Bay, Norfolk Island.

2 This includes a small number of businesses which have income tax withholding roles for purposes other than withholding amounts from wages and salaries (and as such have zero employment).

This data excludes businesses not registered for GST. The Australian Bureau of Statistics adjust cells to avoid the release of confidential information, so cells may not add up to totals. Exercise care when analysing small numbers. For further information see Australian Bureau of Statistics, Counts of Australian Businesses, Including Entries and Exits methodology.

Regional areas are locations outside the Greater Capital City Area. Further information on the ASGS is available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Source: Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics, customised data.

As shown in the table above, 716,609 small businesses were in regional areas on 30 June 2021. Over one-third of these small businesses were in regional Queensland.

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2021), Regional Population, accessed 22 August 2022


Please note that for this data the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) defines small businesses as those with less than 20 employees. The data is classified using the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).

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