SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Bay Area business leaders expect the economy to keep growing in the first half of 2012, according to a survey released Thursday.

Forty-three percent of the nearly 450 CEOs who participated in the latest Business Confidence Survey said they believe the economy will improve, while 39% said they expected things to stay the same.

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KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

Just 18% of those surveyed by the Bay Area Council forecasted an economic downturn, said Jon Haveman, the council’s chief economist.

“People aren’t going crazy with their enthusiasm about how the economy is going to take off, but we’re certainly seeing that people expect things to continue to pick up, to continue to grow,” he said.

San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties have led the way because of hiring at technology companies, and Haveman noted that other parts of the Bay Area have been less fortunate.

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“Most of the East Bay is still struggling to find its footing and find a job growth engine that’s going to help pull it out of the recession,” he said.

Twenty-five percent of the survey participants expect to see increased hiring into the summer, and 17% expect hiring to decrease.

More than half expect hiring to remain unchanged, and Haveman said that translates into growth because technology companies have been adding jobs.

“We are seeing employment growth in the tech sector, in high wage sectors such as professional and business services,” he said.

The CEOs who said more hiring was coming “expect that growth in those sectors will spill over into the rest of the economy,” Haveman said.

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