AP, Local Tech Wire

A new survey shows the number of CEOs planning to ramp up hiring is at the highest level since mid-2007, suggesting big U.S. companies are growing more confident about the economic recovery.

The , an association of CEOs of big U.S. companies, says its survey shows 39 percent of chief executives expect to boost their payrolls in the second half of 2010.

Only 17 percent say jobs will drop, while 43 percent expect no change in their current workforce.

The CEO survey is more optimistic than , which found financial officers don’t see a return to pre-recession employment levels until 2012. They describe the recovery as "still jobless."

However, the CEO survey wasn’t all positive. A growing percentage also said they plan to reduce capital spending, Business Roundtable reported.

“Our member CEOs plan to continue hiring and expect improved sales,” said Ivan Seidenberg, Chairman of Business Roundtable and Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications.

“That said, our CEOs are demonstrating some caution in the area of capital expenditures, with fewer planning to increase spending and more keeping it level," he added.

The proportion of those planning to hire is at the highest level since mid-2007.

Companies are adding jobs as sales recover.

Despite renewed market fears of a hit to global growth because of economic trouble in Europe, 79 percent of CEOs say they expect sales to rise in the second half.

Key findings:

A. Sales trends:

• Increase: 79 percent (73 percent Q1)

• No change: 17 percent (23 percent Q1)

• Decrease: 4 percent (5 percent Q1)

B. Capital spending:

• Increase spending: 43 percent (46 percent Q1)

• No change: 50 percent (46 percent Q1)

• Decrease: 7 percent (7 percent Q1)

C. Employment:

• Increase: 39 percent (29 percent Q1)

• No change: 43 percent (50 percent Q1)

• Decrease: 17 percent (21 percent Q1)

Executives said they expect the economy to grow 2.7 percent this year, up from a forecast of 2.3 percent in late March.

The Federal Reserve expects the economy to grow from 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent in 2010.

The survey, taken from May 24 to June 14, involved 106 CEOs.

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