Confidence in the design economy lifts slightly

NEW YORK—November 13, 2012. AIGA’s Design Leaders Confidence Index strengthened in the most recent quarter. For the third quarter of 2012, the index gained, climbing from 94.92 to 100.51.

Responses to this quarterly survey of more than 350 design leaders demonstrate continuing optimism within the design profession. Since the third quarter of 2009, the index has fluctuated in a range roughly between 90 and 105, after having dropped to 50 in the third quarter of 2008.

Only 9.5 percent of respondents believe the economy as a whole has worsened in the past six months, with slightly fewer (9.1 percent) estimating that the design economy was worse in September than it was in April. While only approximately 4 percent were wildly enthusiastic about the design or general economies (rating either of them as “substantially better”), there was a strong sense that business conditions had not weakened—or were better.

When looking ahead six months, 56 percent thought the general economy would improve and 59.7 percent thought design business would improve; 35.9 percent thought it would remain about the same and only 4.4 percent thought design business conditions would soften.

In terms of hiring and growth, 88 percent feel their likelihood of hiring additional staff is the same or better than it was three months ago; 88 percent believe their likelihood of investing in hardware and software is also the same or better.

The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™, which asks similar questions of corporate CEOs, declined in both the second and the third quarters. The measure currently stands at 42, down from 47 in the previous quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses). Observers of business confidence have generally credited the uncertainty surrounding the fall election and the impending “fiscal cliff” as the cause for faltering business confidence in the economy.

This measure of CEO confidence in the economy declined despite other measures experiencing positive directions. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had increased in September, improved again in October. The Index now stands at 72.2, up from 68.4 in September. Other indicators tracked by the Conference Board include the Employment Trends Index, which is up; Help Wanted Online, which is down; and the Leading Economic Index, which rose slightly. For more information, see

About AIGA

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 throughout 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.

For further information, please contact:
Jennifer Bender, director of communications and marketing
AIGA | the professional association for design