Construction executives express cautious optimism for 2003

Construction industry executives’ outlook improved for the first time since 1998, as they expressed “cautious optimism” for U.S. construction activity next year in CIT’s annual Construction Industry Forecast.

The East South Central and West South Central regions posted the highest optimism, while the Mid-Atlantic and West North Central regions had the least optimistic outlook. The Mid-Atlantic region registered the biggest change from a year ago, as optimism fell sharply. The survey also found the equipment and rental market recorded an optimistic outlook, while rising insurance and financing costs were noted as a growing industry concern.

The Construction Industry Forecast is derived from surveys construction executives complete on their perceptions of the state of the industry and trends for the coming year in the U.S. and Canadian construction markets. Approximately 1,200 contractors and equipment distributors were surveyed in a random telephone sampling throughout North America.

The Forecast’s key benchmark — known as the optimism quotient — improved slightly to 89 from 88 last year, marking the first time in five years the forecast’s main indicator for U.S. construction activity increased year-over-year.