Design leaders’ confidence slips slightly

NEW YORK—November 12, 2013. AIGA’s Design Leaders Confidence Index dropped slightly in the third quarter of 2013 to settle at 95.94, down from the previous quarter’s 100.02. This economic confidence measure of the design industry had been steady at about 100 for a full year.

At the same time, design leaders are optimistic about a solid (if not growing) future: only 9.4 percent believe the general economy will be worse over the next six months. They are even more confident in the design economy, which only 7.1 percent believe will be weaker in six months than it is today.

Over half—53.4 percent—believe the economy will be moderately or substantially better in six months, and 51.1 percent expect the prospects for design to improve over the next six months (the balance expect no change). This is consistent with economists’ observations of a slow but steady recovery.

In terms of hiring and growth, virtually all respondents believed that the likelihood of hiring additional staff and purchasing new equipment is the same or greater today than it was three months ago. Only 16 percent believe that the chances of hiring staff today is worse than it was on July 1, 2013, and 11.3 percent believe they are less likely to purchase hardware and software than at the beginning of last quarter.

These assessments differ markedly from consumer expectations recorded by The Conference Board in its monthly Consumer Confidence Index, which decreased sharply in October. Only 16 percent expected business conditions to improve, down from 20.6 percent in September, while those expecting business conditions to worsen increased to 17.5 percent from 10.3 percent. Consumers also had low expectations for jobs: those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 15.3 percent from 16.1 percent, while the proportion of those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 22.7 percent, from 19.1 percent in September.

The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence dropped in the third quarter as well, although it remains on the positive side at 54 (having dropped from 62 in the second quarter of 2013). CEOs surveyed for this measure provide their perspective on both the U.S. and foreign economies, and their assessment of the U.S. economy was weaker than their assessment of European markets over the next six months.

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Jennifer Bender, director of communications and marketing
AIGA | the professional association for design