United States

RSM US Middle Market Business Index

Middle market outlook falls after a slight drop in economic confidence


The middle market economy slipped slightly in the fourth quarter of 2018, reflecting reduced enthusiasm and increasing uncertainty heading into 2019. The proprietary RSM US Middle Market Business Index fell to 132.0, down from 134.4 in the third quarter. Inflationary pressures and a tight labor market generally account for receding economic confidence this quarter and for the upcoming six months.

Pricing pressures will be increasing risk for middle market businesses moving into 2019. The ongoing labor shortage as well as intensifying global trade challenges are contributing to higher input prices and wage pressures that have become prevalent in the middle market. The rising business costs and inflationary pressures within the sector are projected to increase over the next 18 months, with many companies passing increased costs to customers or renegotiating terms with vendors or suppliers.   

Download the full fourth quarter 2018 report

MMBI highlights

General economy performance

Similar to the previous quarter, 48 percent of executives reported that they believe the general economy has improved this quarter versus last quarter. Fifty-two percent indicated they expect the economy to improve in the next six months.


Gross revenue performance

Fifty-five percent of executives reported gross revenues increased in the current quarter, and 64 percent expect revenues to increase in the next six months.

Net earnings performance

Fifty-eight percent of middle market executives reported net earnings increased in the current quarter. Sixty-one percent expect net earnings to increase over the next six months.


Download the full fourth quarter 2018 report

RSM US LLP and The Harris Poll have collected data on middle market firms from quarterly surveys that began in the first quarter of 2015. The survey is conducted four times a year, in the first month of each quarter: January, April, July and October. The survey panel, the Middle Market Leadership Council, consists of 700 middle market executives, and is designed to accurately reflect conditions in the middle market.

The data for each quarter are weighted to ensure that they correspond to the U.S. Census Bureau data on the basis of industry representation. A reading above 100 for the MMBI indicates that the middle market is generally expanding; below 100 indicates that it is generally contracting. The distance from 100 is indicative of the strength of the expansion or contraction. Read more about how the index is constructed. 


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