The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence rose to 67 in the first quarter, up from 62 in the fourth quarter—showing a measurable amount of faith in the economy since a reading above 50 indicates a positive outlook.

“CEOs’ confidence has improved, yet again, and expectations are that the economy will continue to expand in the coming months,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “As for the employment outlook, CEOs are more bullish than last year, with half now saying they intend to ramp up hiring.”

Asked about current economic conditions, 85% of the CEOs surveyed said conditions are better than they were six months ago, up considerably from the 56% who thought so last quarter. Asked about their own industries, 61% said conditions have improved, up from 55%.

Asked about how the economy will perform over the next six months, 66% expect improvement in the short term, up from 56% last quarter. Asked about their own industries, however, the outlook is less favorable, with 49% expecting conditions to improve, down from 51% in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Half of the CEOs expect an increase in employment levels in their industry, up from 30% a year ago.