Fewer worksite product carriers expect voluntary benefit sales to “increase a lot,” according to Eastbridge Consulting Group Inc.

Eastbridge, Avon, Conn., says its worksite industry confidence index fell to 97.3 at the end of 2007, down from 102.3 at the end of 2006.

Eastbridge comes up with the index by surveying industry participants. The firm set the benchmark at 100 in December 2005.

Survey respondents still expect voluntary benefits sales to increase in the 12 months, but they appear to be more cautious, Eastbridge says.

The drop in the index occurred mainly because the percentage of respondents who said sales will “increase a lot” fell to 20% at year end, from 34% in mid-2007, Eastbridge says.

The percentage expecting some kind of increase in sales fell to 89%, from 98% in December 2006.

About 45% of the participants said they expect the voluntary benefits industry to be more profitable in the coming year, while only 9% said they expect profitability to decrease.