CEOs see better economic times ahead, according to a national survey conducted by the San Diego-based business group Vistage International Inc.

That optimism boosted the Vistage CEO Confidence Index to 98.8 in the fourth quarter, up from 83.5 in the third quarter, but down from 106.3 one year ago.

Vistage checked in with 1,641 CEOs of small and medium-sized companies between Dec. 12 and 22, and released results of its survey Jan. 4.

Among the findings:

Some 41 percent of respondents said they thought the economy had improved in the past year; only 18 percent said the same in the third-quarter survey. Forty percent expect economic gains in the year ahead; only 20 percent had such optimism in the third quarter.

More than half of respondents — 55 percent — said they planned to increase employment.

Some 73 percent of CEOs said they expected their revenue to grow, up from 62 percent in the third quarter. Also, 55 percent said they expected increased profits, up from 47 percent in the third quarter.

Asked to predict which economy would see the most improvement in three years, 49 percent chose the United States. China got 17 percent of the vote, South America 14 percent, and India 10 percent.

The survey covered a variety of topics.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents said Congress’ failure to address the federal debt and deficit affected their business.

Six out of 10 CEOs said they were using social media to grow their businesses.

— Brad Graves