A Real Economy publication

2022 industry outlook

Industry-specific quarterly insights for the middle market


Developed by our industry senior analysts

The Real Economy: Industry Outlook provides a collection of sector-specific insights developed by our RSM US LLP industry senior analysts, a select group of professionals dedicated to studying economic and industry data, market trends and the emerging issues faced by middle market businesses.

Each outlook offers a data-driven approach to industry research, examining the impact of economic factors, including earnings, competitive landscape, consumer behavior, capital flows, mergers and acquisitions activity, supply chain, labor and more.

From recovery challenges and opportunities to future growth, what are the issues affecting middle market businesses?

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Business services and professional services

Technology is beckoning business and professional services firms that are feeling squeezed by ongoing labor challenges. Whether higher salaries are cutting into profitability or job vacancies are outnumbering qualified applicants, digital solutions—specifically those that automate nonbillable or tedious tasks—can help increase productivity and boost the bottom line.

Consumer products

From managing costs and adapting to consumer preferences to addressing a tight labor market and supply chain challenges, consumer products businesses face a variety of issues for the remainder of this year. Retailers, restaurants, apparel companies, food and beverage businesses, and more continue to navigate a complex economic environment.

  • Retailer and restaurant winners will be those that have learned from previous years and have made investments to better understand their customers and supply chains.
  • Insight into regional dining, work and travel behaviors of customers will be critical to ensure proper deployment of consumer goods marketing and sales strategies.
  • Food and beverage brands that can successfully deliver and market products will be well positioned to capitalize on changing consumer preferences.

Financial services

  • The venture capital ecosystem is in a period of moderation.
  • Fintech, long a threat to financial services organizations, can bring opportunity.
  •  Auto insurers will continue to feel inflationary pressures.
  •  The novel approach of the decentralized exchange is gaining traction.
  •  Regulators are pushing climate change to the foreground for banking organizations.

Government contracting

Government contractors find themselves in a period being shaped by significant geopolitical conflict, collaboration among allied nations, and heightened alert to protect the homeland. Defense contractors are juggling current domestic and international demand while positioning for the future of defense. Many civilian agencies, meanwhile, are strategizing around future opportunities that align with the Biden administration’s climate and public health priorities.

Health care

Facing challenges ranging from the pandemic’s lingering impact to economic uncertainty, health care organizations continue to work toward new opportunities with the help of advanced technologies and growth strategies.

Life sciences

Looking ahead, life sciences companies will encounter fundraising challenges and increased competition for experienced and highly skilled talent, as well as fallout from volatile economic conditions. However, innovation and opportunity are always on the horizon for many businesses in the biopharma, life sciences services and medtech sectors. We explore what’s happening and what’s to come.

Manufacturing and energy

Looking to summer 2022, manufacturing and energy companies will need to navigate evolving geopolitical risks, electric vehicle infrastructure challenges, the rise of the metaverse, and supply chain implications that accompany the increasing importance of environmental, sustainability and governance issues.

In our summer edition of The Real Economy: Industry Outlook for manufacturing and energy, RSM senior analysts examine the increasingly bifurcated global trade landscape and the challenges it raises for companies. We also assess the gap between EV demand and the lack of EV charging stations across North America, what the metaverse hype means for the industrial sector, and how businesses need to rethink sourcing and supply strategies as ESG priorities move front and center.

Real estate

An inflationary economy, underscored by a series of interest rate hikes by the Fed, is unlikely to dampen interest in U.S. real estate, which remains a safe haven for investors, who have become more risk averse.

Meanwhile, though we expect to see sharp deceleration of appreciation in home values in the second half of the year, as well as some price corrections, the housing market remains on a solid foundation, propped up by a long-term housing shortage and growing rate of household formations.

Finally, a host of factors is weighing down the senior housing sector. Financial struggles related to the economic slowdown have led some boomers to put a hold on retirement, a shift helped by fast-changing workplace dynamics that have brought many senior workers new remote and hybrid work options. We explore growth in multigenerational housing, which coincides with these trends.

Technology, media and telecom

The technology, media and telecom space remains extremely active, despite volatile economic conditions. Fewer companies have gone public so far this year, but the deal-making environment remains strong for venture capital and private equity. Each sector is evolving, as technology companies try to determine the optimal workplace environment, digital advertising strategies shift to align with Web 3.0, and the broadband internet market is developing as new options become available and consumer preferences change.

The Real Economy Blog

The Real Economy Blog was developed to provide timely economic insights about the middle market economy. It is offered as a complement to RSM’s macroeconomic thought leadership, including The Real Economy monthly publication and the proprietary RSM US Middle Market Business Index (MMBI).

The voice of the middle market

Middle market organizations, which make up the “real economy,” are too big to be small and too small to be big. They have distinct challenges and opportunities around resources, labor, technology, innovation, regulation and more.