WASHINGTON (AP) – 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.
Among the findings:
_ Only about 35 percent of the respondents said sales at their firms increased in the second quarter. That’s sharply lower than the 55 percent who reported rising sales in the first quarter. And 15 percent said sales fell, up from 9 percent in the first quarter.
_ Profit growth also slowed: Only 21 percent of respondents said profit margins increased last quarter, down from 29 percent in the first.
_ Only 19 percent of economists said their firms were raising wages and salaries, down from 31 percent in April and the lowest proportion since October.
_ A small but increasing minority of respondents say that government spending cuts and tax increases have hurt their businesses. Twenty-six percent of the economists said their firms were negatively impacted, up from only 16 percent in April. Still, 74 percent said the government policies had no impact on their businesses, though that’s down from 79 percent three months earlier.
Looking ahead, companies are increasingly concerned about higher interest rates. That reflects the jump in rates that took place following Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s comments in late May that the Fed could slow its bond-buying program later this year. Those purchases are intended to keep interest rates low.
The interest rate on the 10-year Treasury bond, a benchmark that influences mortgage rates and other borrowing costs, has increased nearly a full percentage point to about 2.5 percent since May.
When asked for their biggest concern over the next 12 months, 17 percent of the respondents cited rising interest rates. That is a big jump from April, when only 4 percent cited such concerns.
The biggest concern for most companies is the health of the global economy, which was cited by nearly one-third of the respondents. Europe’s financial crisis has plunged that region into a recession, and growth in China, Brazil and other large emerging markets has also slowed. That’s crimping U.S. exports.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Skin Cancer in Arizona: Stats, facts and new immunotherapy drugs making strides
- Caring Crisis: Rising tide In Alzheimer’s disease leads to shortage of caregivers
- Distracted walking injuries end up not so funny
- Scary situations: 5 quick tips before you let a contractor in your home
- Four ways telemedicine is changing the health care industry
- 5 mistakes homeowners make in the spring
- Three rivers run through it: Exploring Arizona's waterways
- Smart home basics: things you need to know to get started
- 5 Surprising things causing back pain
- Arizona agriculture is a $17.1B industry
- Timeline: Arizona's roots in brewing history
- 5 reasons to love the D-backs this season
- Tips for taking your home entertainment experience to the backyard
- Tech-related injuries your parents never experienced
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain