Business Expectations Concerning Unit Costs And Assessment Of Current Profit Margins

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 BIE Survey of August 14 (pdf) (involving 212 firms responding) :

Respondents indicated that, on average, they expect unit costs to rise 2.0 percent over the next 12 months, roughly in line with the recent year-ahead inflation forecasts of private economists. Inflation uncertainty declined to 2.3 percent in August from 2.5 percent in July. Firms also report that, compared to this time last year, their unit costs are up 1.7 percent. Sales levels improved in August, with 53 percent of respondents now saying their current sales levels are at or above normal compared to 50 percent in July. Profit margins declined slightly from the July reading, with just 45 percent of respondents indicating their profit margins are at or above normal.

The responses to the question “How do your current PROFIT MARGINS compare with ‘normal’ times?” are seen in the report.

Also, this report’s “Quarterly Question” asked “Projecting ahead over the next 12 months, how do you think the following five common influences will affect the prices of your products and/or services?”  A chart in the survey depicts the responses.


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


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