AIGA's Design Leaders Confidence Index continued to drop in the most recent quarter. For the second quarter of 2011, the index slipped from 101.42 to 92.27-a level not seen since July 2009 when it was climbing out of a two-year slump and, officially, the recession was declared over.
The current decline is not surprising, given the substantial media attention that has focused on the economy and its weakness over the past eight months.
The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence, which had risen in the first quarter of 2011, also retreated sharply in the second quarter. The measure now reads 55, down from 67 last quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses). Among chief executives who expect profits to rise, 57 percent believe market demand growth will be the primary driving force. While consumer confidence was up 1.9 percent in the second quarter, overall consumer demand appears relatively anemic and federal deficit reduction measures are likely to suppress demand as well.
The most recent AIGA survey of more than 300 design leaders reflected that the majority of respondents were cautiously positive about economic conditions, with approximately 40 percent judging current business in both the general economy and the design economy about the same as six months ago, and approximately 38 percent believing it was moderately better. Roughly the same percentage believed that both the general economy and the design economy would be about the same or moderately better in six months.
Approximately 50 percent of these design leaders felt that their likelihood of hiring additional staff and purchasing additional hardware and software were the same. Compared with results from April 2011, 24 percent were moderately more likely to hire staff and 30 percent were moderately more likely to purchase new equipment.
These data suggest an overall drop in design leaders' confidence from earlier periods, yet few believe conditions are deteriorating dramatically in the current time frame or in the coming six months.