WASHINGTON – Employment will improve more this year than economists previously estimated, helping the world’s largest economy to keep growing, a private survey showed.

Payrolls will rise 188,000 a month on average in 2012, up from a February projection of 170,000, according to the results of a survey by the National Association for Business Economics issued Monday. Unemployment will average 8 percent in the fourth quarter, little changed from the three-year low of 8.1 percent reached last month.

The world’s largest economy will grow 2.3 percent this year, the same as projected in February, and expand 2.7 percent in 2013. Inflation will probably remain in check, holding around the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target through next year, while a still elevated jobless rate limits gains in consumer spending, the survey showed.

Forecasters “expect moderate growth in the near term with improvement coming in the post-election year,” Shawn DuBravac, chief economist at the Consumer Electronics Association and the survey’s chairman, said in a statement. “Expectations for housing, vehicle sales, employment and industrial production all improved.”

Responses in the survey, taken April 19-May 2, didn’t reflect the results of the latest jobs report that was issued on May 4. Employers added 115,000 workers to payrolls in April, the fewest in six months, and the jobless rate dropped as people left the labor force, according to Labor Department data.