By Christopher S. Rugaber
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Companies are increasingly confident the economy will grow at a modest pace over the next year and are hiring more, according to a survey of business economists.
Nearly one-third of the economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics said their companies added jobs in the April-June quarter, according to a report released Monday. That’s the highest percentage in nearly two years.
And 39 percent expect their firms will hire more in the next six months. That’s near the two-year high of 40 percent reached in the January-March quarter.
The hiring pickup occurred even though sales and profit growth slowed in the second quarter.
Optimism about future economic growth increased.
Nearly three-quarters of the survey respondents forecast growth of 2.1 percent or more over the next 12 months. That’s up from two-thirds in the first quarter survey, released in April, and the most in a year.
The quarterly survey’s results echo much of the recent data tracking the economy. Growth has been slow in the past nine months, but employers have added jobs at a healthy pace.
Many economists anticipate that the steady hiring will help accelerate growth in the second half of this year.
The NABE surveyed 65 of its member economists between June 18 and July 2. The economists work for companies from a variety of industries, including manufacturing, transportation and utilities, finance, retail and other services.