NABE Outlook Survey

December 2021

NABE Panelists Forecast Full Employment by End of 2022;
Rising Wages Seen Pushing Inflation Persistently Above Fed Target



The December 2021 NABE Outlook presents the consensus macroeconomic forecast of a panel of 48 professional forecasters (see last page for listing). The survey, covering the outlook for 2021 and 2022, was conducted November 12-21, 2021. The NABE Outlook Survey originated in 1965, and is one of three surveys conducted by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE); the others are the NABE Business Conditions Survey and the NABE Economic Policy Survey. Founded in 1959, the National Association for Business Economics is the professional association for those who use economics in their work. NABE has over 2,900 members and 44 chapters nationwide. Yelena Shulyatyeva (Chair) Bloomberg, Jack Kleinhenz, CBE, National Retail Federation, Brent Meyer, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Kathleen Navin, CBE, IHS Markit, Dana Peterson, The Conference Board, Sara Rutledge, SRR Consulting, and Robert Rosener, Morgan Stanley, conducted the analysis of survey responses for this report. The views expressed in this report are those of the panelists, and do not necessarily represent the views of their affiliated companies or institutions. This report may be reproduced in whole or in part with appropriate citation to NABE.


SUMMARY: “NABE Outlook survey panelists have ramped up their expectations for inflation significantly since September,” said NABE Vice President Julia Coronado, founder and president, MacroPolicy Perspectives LLC. “The core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy costs, is now expected to rise 6.0% from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the fourth quarter of 2021, compared to the September forecast of a 5.1% increase over the same period. Nearly three-fourths of respondents—71%—anticipate that the Federal Reserve's preferred gauge of inflation, the change in the core PCE price index, will not cool down to or below the Fed’s target of 2% year-over-year until the second half of 2023 or later.“ “Nearly six out of ten panelists anticipate the U.S. economy will reach full employment within a year,” added Survey Chair Yelena Shulyatyeva, senior U.S. Economist, Bloomberg. “Two-thirds of the panel expect wage increases will keep inflation elevated over the next three years.” 


  • For a second consecutive survey, NABE panelists have downgraded their forecasts for economic growth in 2021. The median forecast for the change in inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (real GDP) from the fourth quarter (Q4) 2020 to Q4 2021 is 4.9%. This forecast is down from the 5.6% year-over-year (y/y) rate forecasted in the September 2021 survey, and the 6.7% in the May survey. The median real GDP growth estimate for 2022 is 3.6% y/y, up slightly from the estimate in the September survey.
  • More than half of the panelists expect the U.S. economy will reach full employment within a year. Slightly fewer than 6 in 10 respondents (58%) anticipate the U.S. economy will have already achieved or will reach full employment by the end of 2022. Twenty-nine percent (29%) anticipate full employment in 2023, and 11% expect full employment in 2024 or later.
  • The panelists’ views are split on whether the labor force participation rate (LFPR) will ever return to its pre-pandemic (February 2020) level of 63.3%. Among the half of the panel that anticipates the LFPR will return to its pre-pandemic level, just 5% expect such a rebound to occur by the end of 2022. One-quarter of the panel anticipates a drawn-out recovery in the LFPR, occurring in 2024 or later.