As reported in Bloomberg

April 11 (Bloomberg) — Confidence among U.S. consumers sank to a 26-year low in April as the labor market continued to deteriorate and gasoline prices rose.

The Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment decreased to 63.2 from 69.5 in March. The reading was below the lowest forecast in a Bloomberg News survey and the weakest since March 1982.

Americans are confronting the loss of 232,000 jobs so far this year, along with higher food and energy costs and overall weakening in the economy. Consumer spending in the first half will advance at the slowest rate in 17 years, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

“The consumer’s feeling increasingly hemmed in,” said Brian Bethune, director of financial economics at Global Insight Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts. “They’ve got higher energy bills, higher gasoline bills, higher food bills and obviously the employment markets are nowhere near as strong as they were. The economy is in a recession.”

Our Perspective:

The R word keeps popping up. Seems like more people are using it with greater frequency these days.

Allen Greenspan also used it the other day.

Seems like this has become a cyclical thing. That is what happens when we keep pushing the rock forward and not addressing the issues that confront us. We grow complacent.

So many issues are contributing to us being in this predicament. The sad part is that if you look back, we have been talking about the same issues for the last 40+ years.

What or you doing to address this issue in your own back yard?

Are you being proactive?

Are you looking to reduce cost?

Are you making your company more competitive?

So many people have worked hard and put a lot of sweat equity into building their American Dream. Don’t let it slip away.

We are working with our clients, reducing cost and strengthening their bottom line.

The time to act is now!

Do you have a question?

 

Let us know your thoughts?

 

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Hutchinson Business Solutions ……Your CFO on the Go.

 

Creating Opportunities Today,…Defining Savings for Tomorrow.

Visit http://www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com/ to learn more about saving opportunities available for your company.

 

Spread the good news….. share this information with a friend.

 

 

 

During the last few weeks I have noticed there is a lot of attention being paid to unemployment. Many people have logged onto our blog to find out information regarding unemployment.

 

Below you will find information about:

  • What is unemployment?
  • How do you become eligible?
  • How do they calculate the amount paid?
  • How does it effect employers account?

 

 

 

Per NJSSI

 

The unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for jobs as a share of those considered to be in the labor market. Unemployment affects individual well-being, and the rate of unemployment tells us about the health of the state’s economy. High unemployment means financial hardship for individuals and families. They, in turn, are less able to buy goods and services, which detracts from the strength of the economy.

 

New Jersey Eligibility

 

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must have worked at least 20 base weeks in covered employment or you must have earned $7,200. For weeks worked in 2006, the amount needed to establish a base week is $123; for weeks worked in 2007, the amount is $143; and for weeks worked in 2008, the amount is $143.  These wages must have been earned during a 52 week period that is called a base year.

Base Year Period

Your regular base year period consists of 52 weeks that is determined by the date of your claim. The chart below shows what your regular base year period would be if you filed your claim any day between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2008.

If your claim is dated in:

Your claim is based on
employment from:

January 2008
February 2008
March 2008

October 1, 2006
to
September 30, 2007

April 2008
May 2008
June 2008

January 1, 2007
to
December 31, 2007

July 2008
August 2008
September 2008

April 1, 2007
to
March 31, 2008

October 2008
November 2008
December 2008

July 1, 2007
to
June 30, 2008

Example: Mary Jones filed her unemployment claim as of May 11, 2008.  Her month and year appear in the second box on the left of the chart. This means that her Base Period is from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2007.

If you do not meet the above requirements but you worked at least 770 hours in employment involving the production and harvesting of agricultural crops during your base year, you may still be eligible for benefits.
Alternate Base Year Period

If your earnings during your regular base year period do not meet the qualifications for a claim, earnings in other base year periods will be reviewed. You may qualify for benefits if you worked at least 20 base weeks (a base week in 2006 is minimum weekly earnings of $123; a base week in 2007 is minimum weekly earnings of $143; and a base week in 2008 is minimum weekly earnings of $143), or a total of $7,200 in any one-year period in the last 1 1/2 years for a claim dated in calendar year 2008. Generally, if you have established 20 base weeks or earned at least $7,200 in any one-year period in the last 18 months, you may qualify for a claim.

Figuring Out Your Benefit Amount
How Much Can You Collect?

Weekly Benefit Rate

The amount of unemployment benefits you may receive each week is your Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR). The amount will be 60% of the average weekly earnings during your base year period, up to a maximum of $560 (in 2008). The maximum amount may change each year.

If you are not entitled to the maximum amount of weekly benefits, you may be able to increase your entitlement with Dependency Benefits.

Total Amount

The total amount of benefits you may collect is called your Maximum Benefit Amount (MBA). The MBA is equal to the WBR times the total number of weeks worked in the base year period. Generally, for every week you worked during your base year period, you may be entitled to a week of benefits, up to a maximum of 26 times your Weekly Benefit Rate.

Example 1: An individual worked 20 weeks during the base year period. His Weekly Benefit Rate is $200. His Maximum Benefit Amount will be $200 times 20 weeks ($4,000).

Example 2: An individual who is entitled to a maximum 26-week claim (because he worked at least 26 or more weeks during the base year period) at a Weekly Benefit Rate of $300 will have a Maximum Benefit Amount of $7,800. (This is because $300 times 26 weeks = $7,800.)

Your unemployment claim will be in effect for approximately one year from the date of your claim. If you return to work before you collect all the benefits in your claim, and then become unemployed again before the one-year period ends, you should immediately reopen your claim (see the section entitled “Apply for Benefits”). If your one-year benefit year expires before you collect all the benefits in your claim, the remainder cannot be paid to you. You would then have to file a new claim for benefits.

 

 

 

Employers:

 

State unemployment laws were set up to help both employees and employers. However, Employers must beware to not take everything the state does as gospel.

 

The State of New Jersey has a 12 % error rate in the payment of claims.

 

Although an employee may be eligible to collect unemployment, the state may be paying either too much money or not properly allocating the cost of the benefit.

 

Your unemployment account is very much like having a checking account with the state.

 

The State annually determines and assigns the rate to your company. The rate is based on the relationship between the current reserve balances to the average taxable wages paid by the employer.

 

This rate determines how much an employer will be paying into their account for the next year.

 

The State also notifies you as to how much they have paid out of your account in claims.

 

The balance left in the account is called a reserve. (This is your checking account balance).

 

Employers should be looking at their current rates and asking, are they correct?

 

If your company has been thru a merger or an acquisition in the last 3 years there is a 50% chance that you have been assigned the incorrect rate and that you are overpaying unemployment taxes.

 

We are finding many companies (our clients) are overpaying unemployment taxes and have received refunds.

 

Are your unemployment rates correct?

 

Are you overpaying unemployment taxes?

 

Do you qualify for a refund?

 

All you have to do is contact us and ask.

 

We offer a no cost review of your current rates.

 

Do you have a question?

 

Let us know your thoughts?

 

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Hutchinson Business Solutions ……Your CFO on the Go.

 

Creating Opportunities Today,…Defining Savings for Tomorrow.

Visit http://www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com/ to learn more about saving opportunities available for your company.

 

Spread the good news….. share this information with a friend.

As reported in Bloomberg:

April 9 (Bloomberg) — Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard W. Fisher said the housing market hasn’t hit bottom, and acknowledged that recent interest-rate cuts haven’t lowered borrowing costs for households and companies.

“The housing crisis may not yet have run its course, and further danger could lie ahead,” Fisher said in the text of a speech today in San Antonio, Texas. “The U.S. economy will continue to suffer from a bout of anemia while the housing and financial markets settle down.”

The comments echo the assessment of Fed policy makers at their meeting last month, when they concluded that signs of stabilization in the housing slump had yet to emerge. Central bankers anticipate the economy may contract in the first half, with a recovery in growth later this year.

Our Perspective:

 

Uncertainty reins in financial markets.

 

Crude oil jumped to $112 a barrel. Again, I heard that $4.00 gas could be in our near future.

 

The Fed has taken the steps to reduce rates for the banks, however the banks are still holding back and are not lending money.

 

You can get whiplash watching the stock market.

 

The Iraq hearings are being held in Washington and Gen Petraeus has offered no hope of an early exit. Meanwhile the bills keep mounting.

 

What steps can we take?

 

What are you doing to insure your company’s viability in these turbulent time?

 

Are you being proactive or is it business as usual?

 

Our clients are looking at their cost of operations.

 

Clients are savings from 15% to 40% looking at their telecom and data cost.

 

Clients are receiving refunds for overpayments of payroll taxes and sales taxes.

Several have been in the 6-figure range.

 

Would that help your bottom line?

 

Clients with larger fleets are looking at our GPS fleet management solution.

They are finding their ROI is less than 6 months.

 

Do you have a question?

 

Let us know your thoughts?

 

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Hutchinson Business Solutions ……Your CFO on the Go.

 

Creating Opportunities Today,…Defining Savings for Tomorrow.Visit http://www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com/ to learn more about saving opportunities available for your company.

 

 

Spread the good news….. share this information with a friend.

Economy Lost 80,000 Jobs In March; Jobless Rate Hits 5.1 Percent

As reported by CBS news

 

Employers worried about recession slashed 80,000 jobs in March, the most in five years and the third straight month of losses.

At the same time, the national unemployment rate rose from 4.8 percent to 5.1 percent, the clearest signal yet that the economy might already be contracting.

The new snapshot of the job market, released by the Labor Department Friday, underscored the damage that a trio of crises -in the housing, credit and financial sectors – has inflicted on companies, jobseekers and the economy as a whole.

The report follows Thursday’s news that applications for jobless benefits totaled 378,000 last week. That was an increase of 22,000 from the previous week and was a far bigger jump than had been expected. The four-week average for new claims rose to 365,250.

The unemployment rate was the highest since September 2005, when significant job losses followed the devastating blows of Gulf Coast hurricanes.

 

Our perspective:

 

Most people do not realize that unemployment is the 2nd highest employer mandated tax by the US Government.

 

It is very similar to having a checking account with the state.

 

The state assigns a rate based on taxable wages and claims activity. This rate determines the annual contribution of each employer.

 

Each claim is worth approximately $12,000.

 

The States looks at the previous 5 quarters of each employee’s service to determine the percentage liability for each claim.

 

The state of New Jersey has a 12% error rate in the payment of unemployment claims.

 

The national average is just around a 10% error rate.

 

Could you be overpaying your claims?

 

What is your current rate?

 

How much has your company paid into your unemployment account to date?

 

What is the total dollar amount of claims paid to date?

 

Based on 10%,…..What is the possible overpayment in claims paid to date?

 

Add this amount to your current reserve.

 

Your revised reserve balance would probably have lowered your rate!

 

This would have left more money in the company to pay other obligations or add to savings.

 

Our clients are not overpaying claims!

 

They are taking steps to manage their reserve balances and lower their rates!

 

Interested in learning more about how unemployment works?

 

Do you have a question?

 

Let us know your thoughts?

 

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Hutchinson Business Solutions ……Your CFO on the Go.

 

Creating Opportunities Today,…Defining Savings for Tomorrow.

Visit http://www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com/ to learn more about saving opportunities available for your company.

 

Spread the good news….. share this information with a friend.

Recently a client contacted us and was questioning if there were opportunities to save money in the electric deregulated market. They had multiple accounts and were paying very high monthly bills for LPLP rated accounts.

 Below is an overview we provided to help our client understand the market and where the opportunities for savings are found.

David, we understand your question about the size of these two accounts. Both accounts are on the PSE&G rate class LPLP. This means they have primary service (higher voltage accounts). 

LPLS accounts have secondary service (lower voltage accounts).  

Customers with primary power services are automatically part of the CIEP group (Commercial and Industrial Energy Pricing). CIEP customers are paying an hourly floating PJM index rate plus a $0.05 per KW retail adder. 

LPLS customers must have a peak load share at or above 1000KW to be considered a CIEP and qualify. 

The savings is found in being able to discount the $.05 per KW retail added.

This discount can provide substantial savings.

 Look at your bill! 

If you are not sure if your company qualifies, take a look at your bill.  

For PSEG customers see if you are listed as a LPLS or LPLP account?      If the answer is yes, contact us and we can discuss the options available. 

For Atlantic Electric customers see if you are listed as an AGS Primary account? If the answer is yes, contact us and we can discuss the options available. 

Would you like to know more electric deregulation?

Do you have a question?

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

 Hutchinson Business Solutions ……Your CFO on the Go.  

Creating Opportunities Today,…Defining Savings for Tomorrow.

Visit http://www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com/ to learn more about saving opportunities available for your company. 

Spread the good news….. share this information with a friend.

Americans are more dissatisfied with the country’s direction than at any time since the New York Times/CBS News began asking about the subject in the early 1990s, according to the latest poll.

In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed that “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2003.

Although the public mood has been darkening since the early days of the war in Iraq, it has taken a new turn for the worse in the last few months, as the economy has seemed to slip into recession. There is now nearly a national consensus that the country faces significant problems.

A majority of nearly every demographic and political group — Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and rural areas, college graduates and those who finished only high school — say that the United States is headed in the wrong direction. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was better off.

The dissatisfaction is especially striking because public opinion usually hits its low point only in the months and years after an economic downturn, not at the beginning of one. Today, however, Americans report being deeply worried about the country even though many say their own personal finances are still in fairly good shape.

Only 21 percent of respondents said that the overall economy was in good condition, the lowest such number since late 1992, when the recession that began in the summer of 1990 had already been over for more than a year. In the latest poll, nearly two in three people said they believed the economy was in recession today.

Our Perspective

Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?

I seem to remember that question being asked in a previous presidential election.

How come nobody is asking the same question now?

It’s the economy stupid!  We all heard that one too! 

We are all caught up in the upcoming election but the focus seems to be on “he said …she said.” 

There are real issues with the economy: 

  • Employers slashed 80,000 jobs in March, the most in five years and the third straight month of losses.
  • At the same time, the national unemployment rate rose from 4.8 percent to 5.1 percent, the clearest signal yet that the economy might already be srinking.
  • Fed Chairman Bernanke told the Joint Economic Committee on April 2nd that declining home prices are “at the core” of the credit crunch. Falling employment, rising energy costs, and depreciating housing wealth are also undercutting consumer spending.

This is a perfect opportunity to make our voices heard. There is an election in November.

Know the issues.

Know how each candidate stands on the issues.

Encourage everyone to get out and vote.

Our silence has brought us to where we currently are. We always thought that our elected officials would do what is best for all. Somehow they missed the point!

Moving from the Big Picture, what steps are you taking?

What are you doing to bring about stability in our little world?

These are issues we deal with all the time.

What is your unemployment rate?

How much sales tax did you pay last year?

Are you paying for services that you don’t even have?

Our clients are asking these questions!

They are finding savings and refund opportunities.  

Let us know your thoughts?

Do you have a question?

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

Hutchinson Business Solutions ……Your CFO on the Go.  

Creating Opportunities Today,…Defining Savings for Tomorrow.

Visit http://www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com/ to learn more about saving opportunities available for your company. 

Spread the good news….. share this information with a friend.    

Late Payments on Consumer Loans Highest Since 1992

 

As reported in Bloomberg

 

April 3 (Bloomberg) — Consumers fell behind on car, credit-card and home-equity loans at the highest level in 15 years during the fourth quarter, another sign the U.S. economy is slowing, according to an American Bankers Association survey.

 

Payments at least 30 days past due increased across all eight categories of loans tracked, the Washington-based group said today in a statement. Late loans climbed 21 basis points to 2.65 percent of all accounts in a consumer-loan index created by the group.

 

“The rise in consumer credit delinquencies is consistent with a rapidly slowing economy,” ABA chief economist James Chessen said in the statement. “Stress in the housing market still dominates the story, but it’s a broader tale.”

 

Lenders including American Express Co., the third-biggest credit-card network, and Capital One Financial Corp. doubled reserves for soured U.S. debt in the fourth quarter. Overdue bank-card accounts reached 4.38 percent in the quarter, according to the ABA, as the slowing economy made it harder for consumers to repay debt.

 

The overall increase was driven by late payments for car loans, which make up two-thirds of all closed-end consumer installment loans, Chessen said. Auto loan delinquencies rose to 1.9 percent from 1.81 percent. Overdue mobile home payments rose to 2.92 percent from 2.87 percent.

 

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke acknowledged for the first time yesterday that a U.S. recession is possible because consumer spending, employment and homebuilding will deteriorate this year.

 

Rising late payments will continue in the first half of this year, as “food and gas prices remain stubbornly high and income growth is anemic,” Chessen said.

 

Our Perspective

 

Many of us have seen this coming. Prices keep rising and business and consumers are feeling the pinch.

 

Being late on a payment just adds more pressure.

 

Credit card companies have a default clauses that normally jack up your rate. You get your next statement in the mail and you find out you are now paying 30%.

 

Somehow that does not seem fair. When you need the help most, they only tighten the screws.

 

This all did not happen overnight and it will take some time to correct itself.

 

What do we do in the mean time?

 

If you are a business owner, this is a good time to be proactive.

 

Review your cost. There are many opportunities for savings.

 

Saving money does not equate with lessening your ability to service your clients.

 

It will actually make you more competitve and increase your abilty to compete in our evolving market.

 

Let us know your thoughts?

 

Do you have a question?

 

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Hutchinson Business Solutions ……Your CFO on the Go. 

Creating Opportunities Today,…Defining Savings for Tomorrow.

Visit http://www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com/ to learn more about saving opportunities available for your company. 

Spread the good news….. share this information with a friend.