Business Expectations Concerning Costs

The Atlanta Federal Reserve publishes a monthly report titled “Business Inflation Expectations” (BIE) that contains statistics from a survey of regional businesses’ views on various factors that impact profitability.  These factors include unit costs, unit cost expectations, sales levels, profit margins, and other factors.

As described on the site:

Approximately 300 panelists receive the survey each month. Panelists represent businesses of various sizes headquartered within the Sixth District, which encompasses Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and sections of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Panelists range from executives of large corporations to owner-operators of small businesses. The industry composition of the panel roughly reflects the makeup of the national economy. Nevertheless, survey responses are weighted by industry shares of national gross domestic product.

An excerpt from the April 2014 BIE Survey (pdf) dated April 16, 2014 (involving 181 firms responding) :

Respondents indicated that, on average, they expect unit costs to rise 1.9 percent over the next 12 months. Inflation uncertainty was unchanged at 2.4 percent. Firms also report that, compared to this time last year, their unit costs are up 1.7 percent. Respondents’ sales levels compared to what they consider “normal” conditions went virtually unchanged, with approximately 52 percent indicating current sales levels are at or above normal. Profit margins improved, with roughly 51 percent of respondents indicating their profit margins are at or above normal, compared to 41 percent in March.

This month’s “quarterly question” concerned long-term (over the next 5-10 years) inflation expectations.  As seen in the report:

Over the long term, that is, per year over the next five to 10 years, respondents expect unit costs to increase 2.7 percent, on average, virtually unchanged from the January reading of 2.8 percent. Respondents’ uncertainty (variance) regarding this expectation was unchanged at 2.5 percent.

Furthermore, the “special question” asked respondents about their expectations for year-ahead unit sales level expectations.

The report also includes a variety of charts depicting respondents’ answers.


StratX, LLC offers the above commentary for informational purposes only, and does not necessarily agree with all (or any) of the views expressed by these outside parties.

—– is published by StratX, LLC (  StratX, LLC is a management consulting firm and strategic advisory that focuses on the analysis of current and future business conditions, and given these conditions, offers corporations and businesses advice, strategies, and actionable methods on how to optimally increase revenues and profitability.