About 60% of employers surveyed by the National Association of Business Economics reported rising sales and 40% reported rising profit margins in NABE's April survey.

The numbers, significantly higher than the last survey conducted in January, indicate growing optimism among the nation's employers about the direction and stability of the economy.

Only 28% reported rising employment, although nearly 40% of panelists believe that employment will rise over the next six months.

The finance, insurance and real estate sector had the highest share of panelists reporting rising employment — 38%.

Almost two-thirds of the panelists forecast real gross domestic product growth between 2.1% and 3% from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2012. About 15% of NABE panelists forecast that real GDP growth will exceed 3%, up from 5% who held that view in January.

NABE panelists also suggested a greater trend toward rising wages than the prior surveys with 44% reporting that wages and salaries are rising, while only 26% reported rising wages in the January survey.

The survey represents the responses of 55 NABE members to a survey conducted between March 20 and April 10 on business conditions in their firm or industry. It reflects first-quarter 2012 results and the near-term outlook.

kcurry@housingwire.com

@communicatorKLC