Three-quarters of private equity decision makers in a new survey say the U.S. economy is headed in the right direction, up 21 points from a survey conducted in June.

The Private Equity Growth Capital Council this week released the results of a November online poll of 117 mid- and senior-level private equity professionals involved in fund management and strategic investment decisions.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they expected the investment environment over the next 12 months to be either very or somewhat favorable.

These investment decision makers are ramping up their staffs, with 79% reporting they were hiring and making new investments.

“We are seeing positive indications for a strong 2015,” Steve Judge, PEGCC’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

“Within both the private equity environment and the broader economy, there is enthusiasm for investment and putting capital to work in the coming year.”  

Ultra-wealthy investors are already getting in on the action; many have increased their private equity allocations in the current quarter.

Where the Opportunities Are

Technology replaced oil and gas in the current survey as the sector offering the best opportunity for private equity investors over the coming year.

Twenty-four percent of respondents favored technology, up from 15% in the June poll, while 21% stuck with oil and gas, down from 34% at midyear.

Industrials got a nod from 19% of the investment professionals, and health care from 12%.

Fifty-two percent of decision makers identified small caps and 30% midcaps as the best opportunities in today’s market.

Looking across the globe for new international investment prospects, 52% of respondents saw the most opportunities in Asia, while only 24% liked what they saw in Europe.

Check out Tiger 21 Investors Allocate More to Cash, Private Equity on ThinkAdvisor.