For the first quarter of 2010, the AIGA design leaders confidence index reflects the strongest confidence yet in an economic recovery. The index rose to 103.73-up from 51 in October 2008, and is the highest since AIGA began measuring confidence in the design economy in early 2005. While most respondents rated conditions moderately better over both the past six months and in anticipation of the next six months, the impressions that pushed up the index are widely held. AIGA had expected results from the beginning of 2010 to reveal whether American businesses had reduced their budgets for design based on 2009’s weak start, thus imposing a continuing negative impact on design business. The data and anecdotal evidence suggest investment in design is reviving.
More than a third of respondents (36.5 percent) believe they will be more likely to hire new designers in this quarter than last; only 15 percent felt they were less likely to hire new designers. And 48 percent felt their plans of purchasing new hardware and software had increased compared with three months ago.
Design leaders seem to be more confident than other business leaders, according to the Conference Board’s measure of business leaders’ confidence, which declined slightly in the first quarter of 2010. CEOs’ hiring plans and assessments of their own industries have improved, yet their assessment of overall economic conditions is less optimistic than the previous quarter.
Parallel to the confidence shown by design leaders, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® also continues to improve; it is now at its highest level since September 2008. Consumer confidence improved significantly in March of this year and continued its upward trend in April, along with an indication that concerns about business and the job market have eased.
The next Design Leaders Confidence Index survey will be conducted in mid-July 2010. For more information on the methodology of the survey, visit www.aiga.org/confidence-index.