ARLINGTON, Va., April 23 (UPI) -- U.S. jobs growth lags but looks promising as sales and profit-margin increases suggest a growing economy, a survey of economists and policymakers showed Monday.
Fifty-nine percent of National Association for Business Economics panelists in an April survey reported unchanged employment, while 28 percent reported rising employment, the survey indicated.
But panelists had a more optimistic employment outlook for the next six months than in a January survey, the association said.
About 39 percent said they believed employment would rise over the half-year, up from 27 percent expressing this view in January.
Job growth would likely be greatest in the finance, insurance and real estate sector, the survey indicated.
Forty-eight percent of the 55 applied economists, strategists, academics and policymakers surveyed said they thought employment would remain steady the next six months, while 11 percent, or nearly double the January percentage, suggested employment would decrease through attrition.
The association said a decrease through attrition suggested a positive employment outlook "since decreases through attrition often occur when the employee believes that he/she can find another job."
The April survey also found stronger evidence of rising wages than in the last survey.
Forty-four percent of the panelists reported wages and salaries rose, up from 26 percent saying so in January, while 48 percent said wages were unchanged, down from 71 percent in January.
Almost two-thirds of the panelists forecast the U.S. economy would grow between 2.1 percent and 3 percent this year, the survey said.
The percentage of panelists forecasting real gross domestic product growth of more than 3 percent tripled to 15 percent from 5 percent in January, the association said.
Real GDP is the value of all goods and services produced in the United States in a given year, adjusted for inflation. GDP is the single most comprehensive indicator of the economy's health.
The U.S. economy expanded at a 3 percent annual rate in the October-December 2011 quarter, the fastest pace since the spring of 2010, the Commerce Department said Feb. 29.
The rate was 1.2 points higher than the third quarter's 1.8 percent growth rate.
In the NABE survey, 60 percent of panelists reported rising sales, up from 41 percent in January.
Sales rose most in the so-called goods-producing sector of natural resources, construction and manufacturing, with 83 percent reporting increased sales, followed by finance, insurance and real estate, at 69 percent, and services at 56 percent, the survey indicated.
Rising profit margins reinforced the likelihood of economic growth, the association said.
Forty percent of panelists reported rising profit margins, up from 30 percent in January.
Profit margins increased most in the goods-producing sector and the services sector, at about 45 percent each.
"The survey results suggest an improvement in economic conditions," said industry and business Professor Nayantara Hensel of Washington's National Defense University.
The April industry survey was conducted March 20 to April 10.