Design leaders are optimistic about a growing design economy, according to the latest AIGA Design Leaders Confidence Index results. The index inched upward in the fourth quarter of 2012, climbing from 100.51 to 101.72. Given the economic anxiety surrounding the Congressional ultimatum on the "fiscal cliff," this sustained level of confidence seems to bode well for designers.
Responses to this quarterly survey of design leaders demonstrate continuing optimism within the design profession. Since the third quarter of 2009, the index has fluctuated in a range roughly between 90 and 105, after having dropped to 50 in the third quarter of 2008. This trend broadly mirrors the stock market's position as well.
Only 6.3 percent of respondents believe the economy as a whole has worsened in the past six months, with slightly fewer (6.0 percent) estimating that the design economy was worse in December than it had been in July. The number who felt the general economy had improved substantially over the past two quarters remained constant at 4.2 percent. However, the number who felt the design economy had shown substantial improvement in the past six months more than doubled, to more than 10 percent.
Looking ahead six months, 62.3 percent thought the general economy would improve and nearly as many thought the design economy would improve (58.5 percent). Only 5.1 percent worried that the design economy would weaken in the first two quarters of 2013. This shows greater optimism about the general economy than three months ago, and approximately the same level of enthusiasm for the future design economy.
In terms of hiring and growth, those professing the same or an increased likelihood of hiring additional staff today (compared with three months ago) has risen to 90 percent. Roughly 92 percent believe their likelihood of investing in hardware and software is also the same or better.