Several large U.S. companies plan to boost hiring over the next six months, according to a quarterly survey from the National Association for Business Economics. The poll of 104 NABE members — who are mostly economists or executives from large U.S. companies — shows that more than 40% of respondents expect to increase hiring over the next six months. That’s up from 34% only three months ago.

This is the second positive hiring survey of U.S. businesses in three months. A similar survey in June by the Business Roundtable showed that 38% of the chief executives polled from 150 large U.S. firms plan to boost hiring over the latter half of 2004. In December 2003, only 33% of chief executives planned to add new hires, according to an earlier Business Roundtable poll.

Despite the good news, 14% of the respondents to the NABE survey anticipated cutting their headcounts over the next six months while 45% project no changes in employment levels at their firms. The survey also showed that 61% of respondents fueled increased demand for goods and services during the second quarter of 2004. Half — or 30% — reported seeing no change in demand for goods and services.