WASHINGTON — Economists say the US economy is gaining strength, despite political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East and Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.
A National Association for Business Economics survey finds economists are hopeful the broader economy is improving substantially, with rising employment reported for the fifth quarter in a row. Companies “appear to be positioning themselves for a firming economic environment,’’ said Shawn DuBravac, an economist with the Consumer Electronics Association who analyzed the findings. The outlook for employment rose slightly, reaching a 12-year high. No firms reported significant layoffs, with the only reductions coming from already-planned cuts.
Sales increased for the third consecutive quarter, profit margins continued to improve, and the number of economists whose firms increased spending over the previous quarter held steady. Nearly all of the 72 economists surveyed expect the economy to grow at least 2 percent in 2011.