Although it’s anyone’s guess when the economy will fully recover, hope is still in the air about the prospects for increased sales in the worksite market.

Eastbridge Consulting Group’s latest Voluntary Industry Confidence Index edged up to 92.9 from 88.8 at the end of last year. The index’s baseline measure dates back to December of 2005 when the number was pegged at 100.

In addition, the semi-annual survey found brokers to be significantly more sanguine than carriers about employees embracing voluntary products (85% versus 60%). One indicator is that slightly more than half the brokers polled reported that sales this year were higher than expected compared with just 18% of carriers.

"We have said for some time that the attitudes of brokers will determine how we weather the economic downturn," Eastbridge President Gil Lowerre said in a statement. "If brokers get discouraged, then sales may start slowing."

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