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Business leaders in Michigan are feeling more positive about the outlook for both the state and U.S. economies in the short term and down the road, according to a new report.

The Business Leaders for Michigan, the state’s business roundtable, forecasts the economy will grow through the next six to 18 months locally and nationally. The forecast is backed up by nearly half of the state’s largest employers surveyed saying they plan to increase hiring or make new investments this year.

It’s the first time in nearly three years that the outlook for national and state economies are the same, said Doug Rothwell, Business Leaders for Michigan president and CEO.

“Michigan’s largest employers reported much stronger confidence in Michigan’s and the U.S. economy since the third quarter forecast,” Rothwell said in a statement. “The national outlook has improved for a variety of reasons — lower energy prices, good job numbers and America’s relative economic strength compared to other regions.”

According to the report, 60 percent of business leaders surveyed believe both the Michigan and U.S. economies will grow in the next six months. No one said they expected it to be worse.

It was a similar story in the longer term, with 76 percent and 71 percent of those surveyed expecting growth over the next 18 months for Michigan and the nation’s economy, respectively.

Almost half of the business leaders surveyed said their companies will add jobs in the next six months. More than 40 percent said they believe they will make capital investments in Michigan.

The survey was conducted by polling the Business Leaders for Michigan’s 80 members, which represent about a third of the state’s private sector economy.

The reports are issued quarterly, and the results in this report reflect the fourth quarter of 2014. Overall, there was an increased sense of optimism throughout last year. However, business leaders were slightly more optimistic about the near future for Michigan’s economy in the fourth quarter of 2013. At that time, 64 percent of those polled expected the state’s economy to get better, compared to 60 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.

lrazzaq@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2127

@laurenarazzaq

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