Certain people have made the claim that corporate profits are at record levels and that this fact combined with high unemployment proves that there’s been some kind of fundamental shift in the economy.

The reality is that this is mostly a misreading of the data.  Most measures of corporate profits include foreign produced profits (e.g., Apple shipping product to Europe from China) and foreign profits constitute a much larger part of corporate profits.



Though this statistic might be relevant for some things, it doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the relationship between US profits and US labor.  Further, even if you actually compare even this broader rate to the 50s and 60s, corporate profits are not at “record” levels (not once you account for inventory and capital depletion).

FRED2 data

In any event, you can get this more granular data directly from the BEA.

BEA source data

Note: See Section 6


Domestic Non-financial industry profits


All Domestic Industry profits (including FIRE)


Note: Both profits are quoted in billions and in nominal (non-inflation adjusted) terms.

Long story real profits have not recorded to the levels seen in 2007 and they are not at record levels relative to GDP (especially non-financial).



Misc Notes: