Published: Mar 06, 2012 1:01 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new survey finds economists growing more optimistic about the nation's economy.
 
They see slightly stronger growth and hiring than they predicted two months earlier.
 
The leading economists, surveyed by The Associated Press late last month, believe the unemployment rate will fall from its current 8.3 percent to 8 percent by Election Day. That's better than their 8.4 percent estimate when surveyed in late December.
 
By the end of 2013, the economists predict unemployment will drop to 7.4 percent, down from their earlier estimate of 7.8 percent.
 
The brighter outlook for jobs follows five straight months of declining unemployment.
 
On Friday, the government will issue the jobs report for February. Economists expect it to show that employers added a net 210,000 jobs, and that the unemployment rate remained 8.3 percent.