Business Conditions Survey

January 2024

NABE Business Conditions Survey Panel Puts Probability of Recession at Less Than 50 Percent, and Reports Rising Sales and Profit Margins Despite Elevated Interest Rates


The January 2024 NABE Business Conditions Survey report presents the responses of 57 NABE members to a survey conducted December 28, 2023-January 9, 2024, on business conditions in their firms or industries, and reflects fourth-quarter 2023 results and the near-term outlook.

COMMENTS: “The January 2024 Business Conditions Survey results suggest broad improvement, with respondents reporting rising sales, profit margins, and capital spending, while supply chains are improving,” said NABE President Ellen Zentner, chief U.S. economist, Morgan Stanley.

“The panel suggests that inflation is continuing to moderate, but the path forward is not clear,” added NABE Business Conditions Survey Chair Carlos Herrera, chief economist, Coca-Cola North America. “Seventy-two percent of panelists report that their firms are passing all or some of their cost increases on to customers, and wages and material costs are expected to rise.”



  • More panelists report rising sales and fewer report falling sales in the past three months, compared to results in the October 2023 survey. The Net Rising Index (NRI) for sales—the percentage of panelists reporting rising sales minus the percentage reporting falling sales—rose to 37 in January, up from 6 in the October survey, and the highest reading since the April 2022 survey (conducted during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic).
  • The NRI for profit margins is 10, moving into positive territory for the first time since April 2022. The reading is up 30 points from the NRI in the October survey.
  • The share of panelists reporting falling prices at their firms increased in January. The NRI for prices charged is 23, down from 27 in the October survey, and the lowest reading since January 2021. 
  • Seventy-two percent of respondents report that their firms are passing all or some of their cost increases to customers, higher than the 65% in the October survey. Twenty-three percent of panelists indicate that their firms are not passing their cost increases to customers, down from 29% in the October survey.
  • Ninety-one percent of respondents assign a probability of 50% or less to the U.S. entering a recession over the next 12 months, up from 79% of respondents who held this view in the October survey. Nine percent of panelists suggest a recession is more likely than not, down from 18% in the previous survey.


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