NEW YORK—February 11, 2014. AIGA’s Design Leaders Confidence Index ticked upward in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 101.26, up from the previous quarter’s 95.94. This confidence measure in the design economy is in the midpoint of a band of confidence that has been relatively consistent over the past decade, except for the well-founded concerns about the strength of the design economy from 2007 through 2009. Since the beginning of 2010, the confidence level has hovered within a 5 percent range above or below 100.
Design leaders seem generally optimistic about the overall economy, although not expecting dramatic growth: only 6 percent believed the economy was worse today than it had been six months ago and 96.2 percent believed the economy would be the same or better six months into the future. Focusing on the design sector, nearly half assessed current business as better than six months ago and 43.2 percent considered it the same. Nearly 60 percent looked forward to better business over the next six months, with only 4.7 percent projecting business will be worse.
In terms of hiring, 41 percent felt the chances of hiring additional staff was better today than it had been last October; 47.8 percent thought it was about the same; only 11.2 percent thought it was worse. Over 90 percent believed their chances of purchasing additional hardware and software was the same or better than last October.
Designers’ perception of the economy mirrored the measured perspective of corporate management nationwide. The Conference Board and PwC Measure of CEO Confidence™, which had pulled back in the third quarter, increased in the fourth quarter of 2013. The measure now stands at 60, up from 54 in the previous quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses). CEOs’ assessment of current economic conditions increased significantly: 44 percent say conditions are better compared to six months ago, up from 33 percent in the third quarter. CEOs’ short-term outlook has also improved. Currently, 50 percent of business leaders expect economic conditions to improve over the next six months, up from 42 percent in the third quarter.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had rebounded in December, increased again in January. The Index now stands at 80.7, up from 77.5 in December. “Consumers’ assessment of the present situation continues to improve, with both business conditions and the job market rated more favorably,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “All in all, confidence appears to be back on track and rising expectations suggest the economy may pick up some momentum in the months ahead.”
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