Recent figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the local IT industry has undergone a range of changes in the period from 2000 to 2001, some of which suggest growth, and others that suggest decline.
The income of IT&T specialists dropped from the previous year by nearly half, down to a profit margin of only 6.5 per cent. Some industries have been hit much harder than average, with the computer services industry dropping from 8.1 per cent in 1998/1999 down to 1.4 per cent in the latest set of figures. Wholesale traders suffered a similar loss, recording a loss of -1.4 per cent compared to the previous year's 4.5 per cent profit margin.
Despite the industry-wide drop in profits, the number of specialist IT businesses has increased over the period. From 2000 to 2001, there were 22,475 businesses in the market, an increase of 25 per cent over the previous year. Interestingly, the industry that suffered the most, wholesale traders, also experienced the greatest increase in numbers - the number of such operations doubled in 2001.
As for human figures, the greatest employer of people is the consultancy sector, with over 82,000 people working in the field. On the other end of the scale, however, are businesses that employ four or less people, and these businesses make up 82 per cent of the whole indusrty, yet they are responsible for only 5 per cent of the total income of the IT industry. Businesses with 100 or more people, however, make up only 1 per cent of the total number of business, but also account for 77 per cent of total income.
On the upside, domestic production of IT goods increased by 25 per cent up to $50.2 billion, while imports of local goods also showed a healthy increase -- up 28 per cent to $17.3 billion. However, the country's IT trade deficit has increased, from $9.1 billion in the 1998-1999 period up to $11.3 billion in the 2000-2001 period.