Economists for U.S. businesses are more optimistic about the recovery than they were three months ago, forecasting growth to accelerate this year after a slow start caused by severe winter weather.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, the media projection in the quarterly survey by the National Association of Business Economics (NABE), released today (March 24), is for the economy to expand at a 2.8% annual rate this year. The figure is up from a projection of 2.5% in December.

The economy expanded at a 1.9% annual rate last year.

The improved outlook comes despite respondents saying the bitter cold and snow in much of the country would reduce total economic output — or gross domestic product — in the first three months of the year by 0.4%.

“Despite a challenging start to the year in which adverse weather conditions will likely shave nearly one half of one percentage point from first-quarter real GDP growth, NABE’s March 2014 Outlook Survey panel expects the pace of economic expansion to accelerate this year — and next,” said Jack Kleinhenz, the group’s president and also chief economist of the National Retail Federation.

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