NEW YORK—May 16, 2011. AIGA’s Design Leaders Confidence Index
slipped slightly in the most recent quarter, dropping from an all-time
high of 105.09 to 101.42. Yet this quarter’s measure of confidence in
the design economy remains higher than it was in April 2005, when AIGA
premiered its survey.
This high level of confidence occurs even as broad economic measures
indicate an anemic recovery from the recession. Nonetheless, it is
consistent with other measures of anticipated economic activity; most
notably the Conference Board reports that CEO confidence
rose five points in the first quarter of 2011 and that consumer
confidence rose slightly (a mere 1.6 percent from March to April). The Employment Trends Index and Leading Economic Index were relatively stable, showing only modest fluctuation over the quarter.
The most recent AIGA survey of more than 300 design leaders reflected
that the majority were confident the state of the economy as a
whole—and of the design economy in particular—would be moderately better
in the next six months. Overall, there were more optimists than
pessimists, although the number who thought the economy would improve
was lower than in the previous quarter.
Fewer than nine percent of the respondents felt that the design
economy was worse today than six months ago, and fewer than six percent
felt that conditions would be worse six months in the future.
In terms of employment, nearly two out of five felt the chances of
hiring additional staff were better than in January; only 13 percent
thought they were worse. Among corporate CEOs, half thought they would
be hiring additional staff in the next six months.
More than 40 percent felt the likelihood of purchasing additional
software and hardware had improved in the past quarter; only nine
percent felt it had declined.
While the design profession’s optimism may appear to be inconsistent
with national economic data—which seem to have flattened—AIGA believes
that this is a reflection of increasing demand for design as companies
look toward building competitiveness during a recovery. The first phase
of business’ reaction to any recession is normally cutting expenses.
Once operations are as lean as possible, CEOs must look toward
increasing revenue to improve future profitability, since there is no
further gain to be had from cost cutting. This is often the point at
which there is a reinvestment in design as a means of creating product
or service differentiation and competitive advantage as the consumer
Anecdotally, designers are reporting that they are currently very
busy, although project budgets are considerably leaner than several
AIGA is the professional association for design, a nonprofit
organization dedicated to advancing design as a professional craft,
strategic tool and vital cultural force. Founded in 1914, AIGA today
serves more than 22,000 members through 66 chapters and 200 student
groups across the United States. AIGA stimulates thinking about design,
demonstrates the value of design and empowers the success of designers
at each stage of their careers. Learn more at aiga.org/about.
For further information, please contact:Jennifer Bender
AIGA | the professional association for design
Tel 212 710 3136 Fax 212 807 1799
AIGA’s chapters allow our members to form powerful social and
professional bonds through conferences, competitions, lectures and
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