Fifty-eight percent of businesses surveyed for the first-quarter Vistage CEO Confidence Index plan to hire in the year ahead. That’s the highest level since the start of 2007, according to Vistage.

Reflecting the plans, firms reported that the top issue they’re facing is finding, hiring and training new staff, exceeding concerns about health care and economic uncertainty.

The Vistage Confidence Index was 101.3 in the first quarter 2014 survey, virtually identical to the 101.5 in fourth quarter 2013, but well above the 96.6 in the like quarter last year.

San Diego-based Vistage said firms anticipate that the economy will improve in the year ahead, with revenue and profit rebounding as well. The impact of the winter’s foul weather was expected to be temporary, even if hopes for an early spring have not panned out.

Planned increases in investments in new plant and equipment were reported by 47 percent in the survey, the highest level in four years.

Increased revenue was expected by three of four CEOs surveyed, and more than half anticipate higher profits during the year ahead, Vistage said. Improved revenue and profit were expected slightly less frequently than last quarter, mainly due to the adverse impact of the weather. Nonetheless, these expectations were at the highest levels recorded in the past two years for profit or three years for revenue.

The Vistage CEO Confidence Index, established in 2003, is a quarterly survey of small to midsize business CEOs about the U.S. economy