NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- In another sign of a strengthening economy, U.S. companies say they are planning to hire more workers, and expect economic growth to pick up in the first months of 2011, according to a survey released Monday.
The National Association for Business Economics said the hiring outlook for the next six months is at a 12-year high.
"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," Shawn DuBravac of the Consumer Electronics Association said in a statement.
Forty-two percent of companies surveyed said they expect to hire more workers in the next six months, a 13% increase over the same time last year. Meanwhile, 51% expect no change in hiring, while only 7% expect a decrease.
The survey of 84 NABE members also showed that industry demand continues to move higher, and profit margins are expanding.
GDP projections are also at moderate to high levels, with 62% of respondents planning for real GDP growth of 2% to 3% in 2011, and one in five expecting GDP growth in the 3% to 4% range.
In total, 82% of respondents expect GDP growth in excess of 2%, a sharp increase over the 54% who expressed the same level of optimism last year.
Respondents were also asked to assess the impact of the sweeping package of tax cuts passed by Congress late last year.
A slight majority of companies surveyed said they expect sales to improve as a result of the package, while 45% said they anticipate the law will have no effect.
Companies are expecting less of a boost in the areas of employment and investment spending, with 68% of firms saying the tax deal will have no effect on hiring, while 37% said it would have a positive effect. Only 1% said hiring would be negatively effected.
Only a tiny fraction of small businesses must comply with new Obamacare rules. And most of them are already providing insurance to employees. More
Federal and state officials are looking into so-called "pension advances," deals they say are digging retirees and military veterans deep into debt, while also putting individual investors at risk. More