Economists: The stimulus didn�t help

CNN Money (Link) - Hibah Yousuf (April 26, 2010)

The recovery is picking up steam as employers boost payrolls, but economists think the government�s stimulus package and jobs bill had little to do with the rebound, according to a survey released Monday.

In latest quarterly survey by the National Association for Business Economics, the index that measures employment showed job growth for the first time in two years -- but a majority of respondents felt the fiscal stimulus had no impact.

NABE conducted the study by polling 68 of its members who work in economic roles at private-sector firms. About 73% of those surveyed said employment at their company is neither higher nor lower as a result of the $787 billion Recovery Act, which the White House�s Council of Economic Advisers says is on track to create or save 3.5 million jobs by the end of the year.

That sentiment is shared for the recently passed $17.7 billion jobs bill that calls for tax breaks for businesses that hire and additional infrastructure spending. More than two-thirds of those polled believe the measure won�t affect payrolls, while 30% expect it to boost hiring �moderately.�

But the economists see conditions improving. More than half of respondents -- 57% -- say industrial demand is rising, while just 6% see it declining. A growing number also said their firms are increasing spending and profit margins are widening.

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed forecast that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, will grow more than 3% in 2010, and 70% of NABE�s respondents expect it to grow more than 2%.

Still, the survey suggested that tight lending conditions remain a concern. Almost half of those polled said the credit crunch hurts their business.