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Members of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) reported a strong first quarter, according to the April 2024 Business Conditions Survey. The Net Rising Index (NRI) profit margins, which is the percentage of panelists reporting rising profit margins minus the percentage reporting falling profit margins, rose to 24. This is the highest reading since the survey in October 2021. 

The NRI for sales came in at 49, an increase from January’s index of 37. This is the highest reading since the April 2022 survey, which was taken when COVID-19 recovery was still happening. 

More panelists said their firms raised their prices in the previous three months compared to January’s report. The NRI for prices charged was 23 in January and is now up to 33. The NRI for prices predicted during the next three months is 23, and 64% of respondents expect that prices will remain “unchanged” in the next three months.

However, labor shortages are still present, as 36% of panelists experienced shortages this past quarter. This is an increase from the 29% reported in January. And while more than half (57%) of respondents say a U.S. recession is a top three downside risk for their companies’ outlook, almost seven in 10 (67%) said that the avoidance of a U.S. recession is one of their companies’ top three upside risks.