Thirty-eight percent of chief executives expect their companies to add U.S. jobs over the next six months, up from 33 percent in March, a survey of leading U.S. CEOs said Wednesday.

The survey by the Business Roundtable (search), the country's main association of chief executives, showed 43 percent expect no change in employment at their companies, down from 45 percent three months ago. Nineteen percent expect jobs to decline, compared with 22 percent in March.

"America's CEOs believe that the U.S. economy will continue to strengthen steadily over the next six months," Hank McKinnell (search), chairman of the Business Roundtable and chief executive of drugmaker Pfizer Inc. (PFE) said in a statement.

"Along with a continued rise in capital spending and a high level of sales, CEOs expect steady employment gains over the next six months. Our economy appears to have reached a self-sustaining phase of expansion," McKinnell said.

The survey, completed by 116 of the Roundtable's 150 members, is the second straight in which a larger percentage of executives project their companies to add jobs than cut them.

"The steady growth that our CEOs have projected in the past two surveys is closely aligned with what we've been seeing in official economic data," McKinnell said.

Government data showed America's long jobless recovery from the 2001 recession ended in March and April, when employers hired 625,000 workers. Employment figures for May, due on Friday, are expected to show further strong gains.

The CEO report showed 88 percent of executives expect an increase in sales over the next six months, unchanged from the survey conducted in March, while 8 percent expect no change in sales and 4 percent see a decrease.

The survey found 44 percent of executives expect their company's U.S. capital spending to increase in the next six months, while 49 percent predicted no change and 7 percent saw a decrease.

On average, CEOs expect economic growth of 3.7 percent this year, in line with March's projection.