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Economists: Employment Outlook At 12-Year High

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., is pretty clear about what it thinks the big story is when it comes to the economy these days. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., is pretty clear about what it thinks the big story is when it comes to the economy these days.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

While consumer spending and some other key economic indicators have been trending up in recent months, the thing that Americans really want to see — job growth — hasn't been as strong as anyone would like. After all, while the jobless rate fell by nearly half a percentage point in December, it still stood at 9.4 percent and businesses added only 103,000 jobs (a small number in an economy with more than 130 million jobs).

This morning, the National Association for Business Economics reports that its latest survey of members (economists) shows:

"Employment continues to improve, with 34% of firms reporting larger workforces compared to only 13% a year ago. The share of firms cutting jobs shrank, from an average of 13% over the past three quarters to 6% currently. The current NRI ["net rising index," which subtracts those with "negative" outlooks from those with "positive" forecasts] is the highest level it has been since 1998.

"The hiring outlook for the next six months also looks more robust — 42% of respondents indicated their firms will be increasing employment, up from 39% last quarter and 29% in January 2010. The employment outlook NRI hit a 12-year high."

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NABE's results are based on responses from 84 of its members.