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U.S. Economy Continues to Strengthen, NABE Survey Finds

In its January 2011 Industry Survey, the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) finds that the U.S. economy continues to strengthen.

"The number of firms expressing positive hiring plans is at a level not seen in over a decade - a sign of improving labor-market dynamics. Supporting these hiring plans, industry demand continues to move higher and profit margins are expanding. Firms are showing greater optimism, with one in five respondents expecting economic growth between 3-4 percent. Firms are increasing their plans for future capital spending. A majority of respondents anticipate no increase or decrease in investment spending or employment in response to new tax policies, suggesting business decisions are being driven by the fundamentals of an improving economy," said Shawn DuBravac, Consumer Electronics Association.

Industry demand grew for the sixth consecutive quarter in the last three months of 2010, with 55 percent of those surveyed reporting rising demand. Survey respondents have also become more optimistic, with 62 percent expecting real GDP to grow 2-3 percent in 2011, and 20 percent anticipating 3-4 percent economic growth.

The labor market is also improving, with 34 percent of respondents reporting bigger work forces, compared to 13 percent a year ago. Only 6 percent are reducing staffing levels, down from 13 percent over the last three quarters.

Most respondents - 62 percent - also expect to increase capital spending, an increase from 48 percent last quarter.

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