CIT Equipment Financing released its 25th annual Construction Industry Forecast, which reports Optimism Quotients (OQs) for nine regions throughout the U.S., as well as a national Optimism Quotient.

The survey participants reported a national 93 OQ, which marks a nine-point drop versus last year and the first time the OQ has fallen below the 100 benchmark since 1997.

CIT's Construction Industry Forecast annually predicts construction trends on both national and regional levels based on telephone interviews with more than 900 contractors and distributors throughout the U.S.

Based on the OQ results by class, contractors averaged a 92 OQ, while distributors averaged a 93 OQ, with both groups losing approximately nine points since the last survey.

Eighty-five percent of contractors responded that they expect construction activity to increase or stay the same over the next year due to a high economy. However, respondents agree that costs will continue to rise for service, parts, maintenance and financing in 2001.