A slim majority of CFOs think the state of the U.S. economy will improve rather than remain the same or worsen during the next six months, according to a new survey by Grant Thornton.

The survey found that 51 percent of CFOs say the state of the economy will improve or significantly improve during the next six months. This represents the first time a majority of CFOs have expressed optimism in the economy since the beginning of the 2008 recession, and the first time since 2006.

Only 40 percent of the CFOs polled by Grant Thornton in the fall of 2013 expressed similar optimism, while 45 percent felt that way in GT’s spring 2013 survey and only 25 percent in the summer of 2012.

In addition, 68 percent of CFOs expect the average cost of an employee’s salary to increase during the next 12 months, revealing no change from the fall, but up from 65 percent one year ago. GT found that 51 percent of the survey respondents predict that industry financial prospects will improve or significantly improve during the next six months.

“While optimism slipped a bit in the fall—likely due to gridlock in Washington at the time—the results of our spring survey and recent improvements in key economic indicators seem to signal that the slow increase in confidence in the U.S. economy might be back on track,” said Grant Thornton CEO Stephen Chipman in a statement. “However, in order for businesses to feel confident in long-term growth, hiring and investment, our country’s leaders must pave a path to progress and a sustained economic recovery by ensuring stability in fiscal, public and tax policies.”

The number of CFOs who believe the pricing or fees charged by their industry will improve or significantly improve increased to 41 percent, up from 37 percent in the fall. Forty-six percent of the CFOs surveyed said their company’s headcount will increase or significantly increase during the next year, up from 40 percent in spring 2013.