Confidence in the design economy slips slightly

NEW YORK—August 16, 2012. AIGA’s Design Leaders Confidence Index weakened in the most recent quarter. For the second quarter of 2012, the index slipped from 104.15 to 94.92—a 9 percent drop. Responses to this quarterly survey of more than 350 design leaders demonstrate cautious optimism in the design industry. For instance, roughly 13 percent believe the overall economy is worse now than six months ago and about 12 percent feel the design economy is worse. Looking ahead, only 8 percent think the economy, in general or in terms of design activity, will be worse in six months

In terms of hiring, 84 percent feel their likelihood of hiring additional staff is the same or better than it was six months ago; 89 percent believe their likelihood of investing in hardware and software is also the same or better.

The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™, which had improved in the first quarter of this year, decreased in the second quarter. The Measure now stands at 47, down from 63 last quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses).  Designers remain considerably more sanguine than business leaders.

According to Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, “CEOs began the year quite upbeat, but the lackluster performance of the economy so far, and expectations of more of the same, have clearly impacted attitudes. On a positive note, CEOs remain confident profits will continue to increase, driven primarily by market/demand growth.”

At the consumer level, The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® improved slightly in July. The Index now stands at 65.9, up from 62.7 in June. The Expectations Index—a subset of the Consumer Confidence survey measuring respondents’ expectations regarding business conditions, employment conditions and total family income—improved to 79.1 from 73.4.

According to Franco, “Despite this month’s improvement in confidence, the overall Index remains at historically low levels. Consumers’ attitude regarding current conditions was little changed in July, but their short-term expectations, which had declined last month, bounced back.”

There are also signs that business is beginning to defer expansion and investment in anticipation that the United States will face a “fiscal cliff” on December 31, unless Congress can reach an agreement that eliminates tax increases and budget reductions scheduled to go into effect at that time.

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. Learn more at

For further information, please contact: Jennifer Bender
AIGA | the professional association for design
Tel 212 710 3136