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The economic outlook for the U.S. continued to improve during the fourth quarter of 2010, according to results of the National Association for Business Economists' January 2011 Industry Survey. The survey represents the responses of 84 NABE members between Dec. 17, 2010, and Jan. 5, 2011.
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"NABE's January 2011 Industry Survey confirms that the underpinnings of the U.S. economy continue to strengthen," said Shawn DuBravac, Consumer Electronics Association. "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."
Industry demand increased for a sixth consecutive quarter, with about 55 percent of survey panelists reporting rising demand versus 12 percent report a decline. All four major industry sectors experienced demand growth.
Profit margins also expanded for a sixth consecutive quarter. Thirty-eight percent of panelists reported margins increased at their firms, versus 18 percent who reported declining profitability. The spread between the responses was the highest since the fourth quarter 2005.
Employment continues to improve, with 34 percent of firms reporting larger workforces. At the same time, the share of firms cutting jobs shrank from an average of 13 percent over the last three quarter to 6 percent currently.
Materials costs continue to rise, but the percentage of respondents reporting rising prices remained below the highs seen in 2008.
More than half of the respondents indicated that some portion of their firms' sales came from foreign-based operations, with 14 percent reporting that more than half of their sales were from foreign sources. Of those with sales from foreign operations, 44 percent indicated their share of sales from foreign sources increased in the last quarter, while only 2 percent reported they decreased.