Certified public accountants expressed their highest level of optimism on the U.S. economy since the third quarter of 2007, according to the latest AICPA/UNC Quarterly Economic Outlook Survey, in which 1,168 CPAs were queried. In addition, the CPAs’ expectations for hiring and capital spending on IT and other areas improved slightly.

Forty-eight percent of CPAs serving in executive positions expressed optimism about the U.S. economy in the first quarter, up 20 percentage points from 28% in the fourth quarter. And 13% of companies expect to hire new employees in 2011, up from 11% who expected to hire in the next 12 months in the fourth quarter.

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