What are SBS?

Structural business statistics (SBS) and global business activities cover industry, construction, trade and services. Presented according to the NACE activity classification, they describe the structure, conduct and performance of businesses across the European Union (EU) – data are available for the EU and the Member States.

The statistics can be broken down to a very detailed sectoral level (several hundred economic activities). A subset of the SBS information is also available for European regions, as well as according to the size of enterprises.

The information contained within SBS is therefore more detailed than national accounts.

The main variables within SBS are generally collected and presented as monetary values, or as counts (for example, numbers of enterprises or persons employed); this is in contrast to short-term business statistics, where the data are presented as indices (generally in relation to a base year).

Generally SBS does not collect information on products. The external trade and the production of specific products are covered by external trade statistics and/or PRODCOM. The exceptional presentation of products statistics within SBS concern for example multi-yearly data for products sold in distributive trades, or information on certain financial products (such as life assurance).

Use and examples

SBS may be used to answer such questions as:

  • how much wealth is created in an activity and how many persons are employed?;
  • is there a shift from the industrial sector to the services sector and in which specific activities is this trend most notable?;
  • which countries are relatively specialised in the manufacture of a particular activity, for example the manufacture of aerospace equipment?;
  • how productive is a particular activity, such as the chemicals sector, and how does it fare in terms of operating profitability?

This list of articles provides some examples of how SBS statistics may be used to analyse the business economy.

How are SBS measured?

SBS are based upon data for enterprises or parts of enterprises, such as local units which are often used for regional SBS data. Enterprises or other units are classified according to a classification of economic activities called NACE.

An enterprise carries out one or more activities at one or more locations and may comprise one or more legal units. When an enterprise is active in more than one economic activity, then the value added and turnover that it generates, the persons it employs, and the values of all other variables will be classified under the enterprise's principal activity; the principal activity is normally the one that generates the largest amount of value added.

Which parts of the economy does SBS cover?

SBS covers the 'business economy' (NACE Rev. 2 Sections B to N and Division 95) which includes:

  • industry
  • construction, and
  • distributive trades and services.

Note that financial services (NACE Rev. 2 Section K) are kept separate because of their specific nature and the limited availability of most types of standard business statistics in this area.

SBS does not cover agriculture, forestry and fishing, nor public administration and (largely) non-market services such as education and health. For information on these areas of the economy, refer to national accounts by branch or other sector specific statistics.

During 2010 data for the reference year 2008 based on NACE Rev. 2 was published for some of the SBS datasets. Existing SBS data presented in terms of NACE Rev. 1.1 will be maintained in the database for those users wishing to analyse historical series. Starting with data for the 2009 reference year the information presented within SBS will be displayed only in terms of NACE Rev. 2.