Most people I talk to

 

Admit to budgeting by….

 

 

How much did we spend last year?

 

 

How do you know what you spent last year;

 

Was the correct amount?

 

 

It may be a comfort level amount

 

 

In today’s growing market

 

It is good to look at all your costs…

 

 

Do not take what you paid last year

 

As the cost of doing business.

 

 

 

Just think…

 

The iphone was invented 9 years ago

 

Look how it has revolutionized how we do business

 

 

Businesses were once paying over $1000 a month for T1’s

 

You can now get 10 times the speed for a fraction of the cost

 

 

Cloud technology is transforming business…

 

 

Natural gas prices were once over $10 a dekatherm

 

We now have a new floor and….

 

Companies are saving thousands of $$$

 

In the deregulated gas and electric market

 

 

 

Did you know that NJ and PA have over a 12% error rate

 

In the payment of unemployment claims

 

The state is taking money out of your account

 

Without asking.

 

 

 

When property values went down

 

How come we continued to pay the same property taxes?

 

 

 

Is sales tax really the cost of doing business…

 

What is this real property exemption?

 

 

 

These are questions we all should be asking ourselves…

 

 

These are questions we deal with…

 

Everyday

 

 

 

 

Don’t just settle and accept that

 

What we are currently paying

 

Is the cost of doing business…

 

 

 

At HBS

 

We validate what you are currently paying and

 

Look for opportunities to save you money

 

 

We are experts in providing smart solutions

 

That will grow your bottom line.

Written By Arthur Delaney   reported on Huffingtonpost.com

The U.S. economy lost 467,000 jobs in June as the national unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent, the government announced on Thursday morning. While that’s only one-tenth of a percentage point from May, the current rate is the highest rate in 26 years.

Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, said that the loss of 6.5 million jobs since the start of the recession combined with the growth of the workforce means that the gains of the previous business cycle have been completely blown away.

“This is the only recession since the Great Depression to wipe out all jobs growth from the previous business cycle, a devastating benchmark for the workers of this country and a testament to both the enormity of the current crisis and to the extreme weakness of jobs growth from 2000-2007,” said Shierholz in a statement.

The ranks of the long-term unemployed — people out of work for 27 weeks or more — grew by 433,000 in June to a total of 4.4 million. Three in 10 of the unemployed are now long-term unemployed. The collapse of the housing industry contributes to their plight.

“We know right now because of the housing crisis that people can’t move to find another job,” Shierholz said. “People that in previous recessions may have been able to relocate to find another job can’t now.”

The Huffington Post has been profiling people who’ve been out of work for long periods of time. Marvin Bohn of Ohio hasn’t worked for a year and has been paying for his meds out-of-pocket. Steve Dittmann of Kansas said of the unemployed life, “I feel like I’m on the other side of a Plexiglass wall looking in.”

A broader measure of labor underutilization that accounts for people who’ve stopped looking for work hit 16.5% in June, a 0.1 percentage point increase.

“In June, there were large decreases in manufacturing, construction, and professional and business services,” said Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Keith Hall in a statement. “Together, these three sectors have accounted for nearly three-quarters of the jobs lost since the recession began.

Many economists have predicted that even when the recession is technically over with the economy beginning to expand, there will be a “jobless recovery” as unemployment hovers in the double-digits.

By MICHELLE CONLIN, BUSINESSWEEK
Posted: 2009-03-10 23:55:34

 

 
Eve Gelb’s life was once a blur of hour-and-a-half commutes on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. What memories: The NPR fatigue. The stale minivan air. The deep identification with the characters in Waiting for Godot. But that’s all in the past. Gelb, a project manager at a giant HMO, SCAN Health Plan, has given up her Ethan Allen-style office, yanked down the family photos, and moved into her home office. Members of the professional class normally have to beg their managers — or at least delicately negotiate — to allow them to work remotely. But in Gelb’s case, it was her boss’s idea.
SCAN is one of a growing number of companies encouraging workers to toil from home. Sure, employers have been doing this for years. But as the recession bites and companies look to save money on real estate costs, what was once a cushy perk is now deemed a business necessity. And that, along with a few choice enticements — voila!, a shiny new BlackBerry — is how companies are selling it to employees, whose emotions range from ecstasy to befuddlement.

The health-care sector is one of the few industries that is still expanding these days, and SCAN is no exception. “We needed to find a way to grow without incurring any more fixed costs,” says Chief Financial Officer Dennis Eder. To encourage more of its workforce to become post-geographic, the company has been offering free high-speed Internet access and gratis office furniture, complete with a couple of delivery guys to set it all up.

Gelb jumped at the opportunity but still found herself struggling to adjust. “I never thought to myself: What would I do with all that extra time that I wasn’t sitting in my car?” So she set about building new routines. “Instead of going on my commute in the morning, I go for a walk,” says Gelb, 40. That makes up for the cardio workout she used to get running up and down SCAN’s four flights of stairs attending meeting after meeting. Now that she simply dials in, “I don’t really move much,” she concedes. On the days when she does come into the office, Gelb shares her old digs with her three direct reports, who also work flexibly. She says they see each other more now than they did when they were squirreled away in their corporate warrens.

Still, persuading managers to embrace no-collar work isn’t always easy. Jack Weisbaum, CEO of accounting firm BDO Seidman, has spent endless hours over the past year managing what he calls the “yeah buts.” These are the old-school execs among his crew who have an arsenal of reasons why untethering workers is a lousy idea: They’ll become Facebook addicts, ignore clients, develop a bad case of alienation. Weisbaum went on the road to nearly all 37 of the firm’s offices to explain how he sees flexibility as a business strategy. He told the troops that allowing people to work where and when they want is enabling BDO to prevent layoffs. The real estate savings are a big reason for that. When BDO moves into its new Los Angeles offices in June, it will be taking over a radically reduced space. “Bricks and mortar are like a noose around your neck,” says Christopher Tower, BDO’s leader for the Western region.

“Homeshoring” has enabled BDO Seidman’s controller for the Western U.S., Grace Renteria, to essentially give herself a raise: the amount of money she saves by working at home, a café, a club—anywhere, in short, that doesn’t require a commute. There’s the $15 a day Renteria used to lay out for lunch. Then her $70 a week in gas. Add wear and tear on her Lexus LS 400. On top of that, she no longer has to lose productivity from co-worker interruptions. “I only go into the office,” Renteria says, “when I don’t have a lot going on.”

“THIS IS DESTINY”
Capital One is one of many companies where status has long been measured in square footage. The bank’s human resources chief, Matt Schuyler, has had to deal with executives made anxious by the prospect of losing their wood-paneled lairs as they begin new lives as laptop hobos. Schuyler, who is also in charge of corporate real estate, meets with them one on one, whipping out the stats showing how much a skinnier footprint benefits the bank. Then he delivers his sweetener: “The bad news is, I’m taking away your office. The good news is, here’s your new laptop and your shiny new BlackBerry.” Another enticement is the $1,000 managers can dole out to workers to freshen up their home offices. So far the company has cut 20% of its real estate costs. “This is destiny, and other companies will have to get there,” says Schuyler. “We’re at the tip of the iceberg with respect to this stuff.”

None of this is to say the corporate office will disappear. But hard times will accelerate a Digital Age makeover. Adieu to cubicle farms, fixed walls, and standing-room-only conference rooms. Hello to sliding walls, moveable furniture, and lots of lounge areas. Space will be allotted by function, not title. Square footage will be based on office presence, not rank. The flexibility will cut costs and at the same time accommodate both loud talkers and hermits. The new workplace will be less about working alone and more about working together. One thing, however, will never change: The office will remain the primary spot for meetings, collaboration, and, of course, gossip.

Our perspective:
The economy is challanging us to now think outside the box. Companies, besides fighting to survive, are still looking for the opportunity to grow and expand.
How can they be unique?
Robert Kennedy once eloquently stated that “some people look at things and ask why, I say why not?”
We got to where we are today, for we took our eye off the ball . This is not to say that we should turn our back on everything. There are many things that we can still incorporate. But it is time to also incorarate opportunities, to introduce efficiencies that will not take away from the ability to service our clients
There are only 24 hours in a day. Use our time more effectively. That is the key. Those willing to adapt will succeed.
What will we be looking at?
Teleconferencing…. Telecommuing…. Video Conferencing… Video Training
All of these play into raising efficiencies, lowering cost and challenging the norm.
Let us know your thoughts?
Should you like to knw more on incorporating these opportunities into your business? Leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

Conlin is the editor of the Working Life Dept. at BusinessWeek.

2009-03-10 23:39:19

Unemployment hits 7.6%

February 6, 2009

Written by JEANNINE AVERSA | February 6, 2009 10:34 AM EST  AP

WASHINGTON — Recession-battered employers eliminated 598,000 jobs in January, the most since the end of 1974, and catapulted the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent. The grim figures were further proof that the nation’s job climate is deteriorating at an alarming clip with no end in sight.

The Labor Department’s report, released Friday, showed the terrible toll the drawn-out recession is having on workers and companies. It also puts even more pressure on Congress and President Barack Obama‘s administration to revive the economy through a stimulus package and a revamped financial bailout plan, both of which are nearing completion.

“These numbers, and the very real suffering of American workers they represent, reinforce the need for bold fiscal action,” said Christina Romer, chief of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers. “If we fail to act, we are likely to lose millions more jobs and the unemployment rate could reach double digits.”

The latest net total of job losses was far worse than the 524,000 that economists expected. Job reductions in November and December also were deeper than previously reported.

With cost-cutting employers in no mood to hire, the unemployment rate bolted to 7.6 percent in January, the highest since September 1992. The increase in the jobless rate from 7.2 percent in December also was worse than the 7.5 percent rate economists expected.

All told, the economy has lost a staggering 3.6 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. About half of this decline occurred in the past three months.

“Companies are in survival mode and are really cutting to the bone,” said economist Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics. “They are cutting and cutting hard now out of fear of an uncertain future.”

Factories slashed 207,000 jobs in January, the largest one-month drop since October 1982, partly reflecting heavy losses at plants making autos and related parts. Construction companies got rid of 111,000 jobs. Professional and business services chopped 121,000 positions. Retailers eliminated 45,000 jobs. Leisure and hospitality axed 28,000 slots.

Those reductions swamped employment gains in education and health services, as well as in the government.

Just in the 12 months ending January, an astonishing 3.5 million jobs have vanished, the most on record going back to 1939, although the total number of jobs has grown significantly since then.

On Wall Street, investors pushed up stock prices on hopes that the miserable jobs report would get Congress to move quickly on the economic revival package. The Dow Jones industrials gained about 120 points in morning trading and broader stock indicators also rose.

Employers are slashing payrolls and turning to other ways to cut costs _ including trimming workers’ hours, freezing wages or cutting pay _ to cope with shrinking appetites from customers in the U.S. and overseas, who are struggling with their own economic troubles.

The average work week in January stayed at 33.3 hours, matching the record low set in December.

With no place to go, the number of unemployed workers climbed to 11.6 million. In addition, 7.8 million people were working part time _ a category that includes those who would like to work full time but whose hours were cut back, or those who were unable to find full-time work.

Job hunters also are facing longer searches for work.

The average time it took for an unemployed person to find any job _ full or part time _ rose to 19.8 weeks in January, compared with 17.5 weeks a year ago, underscoring the increasing difficulty the out-of-work are having in finding a new job.

Workers with jobs saw modest wage gains.

Average hourly earnings rose to $18.46 in January, up 0.3 percent from the previous month. Over the year, wages have risen 3.9 percent.

An avalanche of layoffs is slamming the nation from a wide swath of employers.

Caterpillar Inc., Pfizer Inc., Microsoft Corp., Estee Lauder Cos., Time Warner Cable Inc., and Sprint Nextel Corp. are among the companies slicing payrolls. Manufacturers _ especially car makers _ construction companies and retailers have been particularly hard hit by the recession. Talbots Inc., Liz Claiborne Inc., Macy’s Inc. and Home Depot Inc. are all cutting jobs. So are Detroit’s General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

Americans cut back sharply on spending at the end of last year, thrusting the economy into its worst backslide in a quarter-century. The tailspin could well accelerate in the current January-March quarter to a rate of 5 percent or more as the recession drags on into a second year, and consumers and businesses burrow deeper.

Vanishing jobs and evaporating wealth from tanking home values, 401(k)s and other investments have forced consumers to retrench, which has required companies to pull back. It’s a vicious cycle where the economy’s problems feed on each other, perpetuating a downward spiral.

Many economists predict the current quarter _ in terms of lost economic growth _ will be the worst of the recession.

With fallout from the housing, credit and financial crises _ the worst since the 1930s _ ripping through the economy, analysts predict 3 million or more jobs will vanish this year even if lawmakers quickly approve Obama’s stimulus plan, which has ballooned to more than $900 billion in the Senate.

Obama has repeatedly pressed Congress to swiftly enact a package of increased government spending, including big public works projects and tax cuts, to revive the economy and create jobs. He says his plan will save or create more than 3 million jobs in the next two years.

But the recession has proven stubborn. Despite record low interest rates ordered by the Federal Reserve and a raft of radical programs, including a $700 billion financial bailout, consumers and businesses face high hurdles to borrow money. Foreclosures are skyrocketing, home prices are sinking and Wall Street remains on edge.

Our Perspective:

The public has lost confidence in our economy. Companies are scrambling to cut cost and one of the first things you look at is jobs.

Where will all this lead? I see people shaking their head saying, “I have never seen anything like this before!”

Everyone is looking to Washington. Do they have the answer. Decisions they have made in the past have put us here. A delicate balance must be met. To stimulate the economy, they must only focus of items that will truly stimulate the economy. Cut the pork.

Money put towards rebuilding our schools, infrastructure and alternative energy are quality of life issues and are considered an investment in our own future. This will create jobs. All the other projects fall under special interest that should be looked at in more detail and not be part of a stimulus package.

Cut out the politics and realize that we should all be focused on helping one another. Extend your hand and and offer real help.

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

An Excerpt as reported in Bloomberg

By Bob Willis

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) — Manufacturing in the U.S. shrank again last month and consumer spending recorded an unprecedented sixth monthly decline in December, offering no sign the economy has hit bottom.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index was 35.6 in January; readings less than 50 signal a contraction and the measure has been below that level since February 2008. The Commerce Department said personal spending fell 1 percent in December, and reported a third monthly drop in construction.

Factories are likely to cut back further as the slump in household purchases leaves companies with stockpiles of unsold goods. General Motors Corp. plans to slash production at 15 plants through June in an effort to work off the surplus inventory, and Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. are also cutting back.

“The numbers are still terribly weak,” said James O’Sullivan, senior economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. “Manufacturing is still contracting rapidly” while consumer spending is unlikely to recover “for a while,” he said.

Treasuries advanced and stocks gyrated between gains and losses. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock index closed down 0.1 percent at 825.43 in New York. Yields on benchmark 10-year notes fell to 2.72 percent from 2.84 percent at last week’s close.

A separate report from the Federal Reserve today showed a majority of U.S. banks made it tougher for consumers and businesses to get credit in the past three months even as lenders received infusions of taxpayer funds.

Our perspective:

The senate continues to debate over the new stimulus package as the economy continues to crumble. The question is, will it be a stimulus package or is it just more pork?

Hope has been running high that we can finally break through all the politics and turn our attention toward providing jobs and restoring stability. We must turn our eyes towards Washington and pray that they finally get it right.

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

David Duprey / AP     As reported on MSNBC.com

Manufacturing particularly hit, analyst sees trend continuing through year

WASHINGTON – Rising unemployment spared no state last month, and 2009 is shaping up as another miserable year for workers from coast to coast.

Jobless rates for December hit double digits in Michigan and Rhode Island, while South Carolina and Indiana notched the biggest gains from the previous month, the Labor Department said Tuesday. A common thread among these states has been manufacturing industry layoffs tied to consumers’ shrinking appetite for cars, furniture and other goods.

With tens of thousands of layoffs announced this week by well-known employers such as Pfizer Inc., Caterpillar Inc. and Home Depot Inc., the unemployment picture is bound to get worse in every region of the country, economists say.

 

“We won’t see a light at the end of the tunnel until 2010,” said Anthony Sabino, a professor of law and business at St. John’s University.

The number of newly laid off Americans filing claims for state unemployment benefits has soared to 589,000, while people continuing to draw claims climbed to 4.6 million, the government said last week. There’s been such a crush that resources in New York, California and other states have run dry, forcing them to tap the federal government for money to keep paying unemployment benefits.

Aside from manufacturing, jobs in construction, financial services and retailing are vanishing — casualties of the housing, credit and financial crises.

  Highs, lows
States with the highest unemployment rates in December 2008:

1. Michigan, 10.6 percent
2. Rhode Island, 10 percent
3. South Carolina, 9.5 percent
4. California, 9.3 percent
5. Nevada, 9.1 percent
6. Oregon, 9 percent
7. District of Columbia, 8.8 percent
8. North Carolina, 8.7 percent
9. Indiana, 8.2 percent
10. Florida, 8.1 percent

States with the lowest unemployment rates in December 2008:

1. Wyoming, 3.4 percent
2. North Dakota, 3.5 percent
3. South Dakota, 3.9 percent
4. Nebraska, 4 percent
5. Utah, 4.3 percent
6. Iowa, 4.6 percent
7. New Hampshire, 4.6 percent
8. New Mexico, 4.9 percent
9. Oklahoma, 4.9 percent
10. West Virginia, 4.9 percent

Clobbered by problems at Detroit’s auto companies, Michigan’s unemployment rate soared to 10.6 percent in December. Rhode Island’s jobless rate hit 10 percent, the highest on records dating back to 1976.

Those states — along with eight others and the District of Columbia — registered unemployment rates higher than the nationwide average of 7.2 percent, a 16-year high.

South Carolina and Indiana posted the biggest bumps in their monthly unemployment rates. Each state logged a 1.1 percentage point rise in unemployment from November to December.

In South Carolina, the unemployment rate bolted to 9.5 percent as laid-off textile, clothing and other factory workers found it difficult to find new jobs.

“The money I was making, I’d be hard-pressed to find a job paying that,” said Gregory Smalls, a 49-year-old Columbia, S.C., resident who lost his more than $50,000-a-year job as a truck body shop manager when his department merged with a dealership’s service department.

Indiana’s jobless rate soared to 8.2 percent in December as workers were hit by layoffs in manufacturing — including at engine maker Cummins Inc. — as well as in construction and retail.

Many Indiana counties with high jobless rates are in the northern part of the state, which has been battered by layoffs in the recreational vehicle industry. Hundreds of workers have lost their jobs at RV makers such as Monaco Coach Corp., Keystone RV Co. and Pilgrim International.

Gayle Glaser, who owns the Shortstop Inn restaurant in Wakarusa, Ind., said those job losses have hurt her business, too.

“We just don’t have the traffic here from the plants,” she said. “All my customers coming in — they’re all laid off.”

States that have been spared the worst of the recession’s pain tend to benefit from energy and agriculture production, while also having relatively minimal exposure to the housing and manufacturing busts.

  Economy in Turmoil
Unemployment rose in every state in Dec.
  Rising unemployment spared no state last month, and 2009 is shaping up as another miserable year for workers from coast to coast.

Wyoming posted the lowest unemployment rate, 3.4 percent in December. It was followed closely by North Dakota at 3.5 percent and South Dakota at 3.9 percent.

In 2008, the country lost 2.6 million jobs, and in 2009 at least 2 million more jobs are forecast to disappear.

Minneapolis-based retailer Target Corp. said Tuesday that it will cut an undisclosed number of workers at its headquarters. Elsewhere, specialty glass company Corning Inc. said it would cut 3,500 jobs, or 13 percent of its work force, as demand slumped for glass used in flat-screen televisions and computers. And chemical company Ashland Inc. said it would eliminate 1,300 jobs, freeze wages and adopt a two-week furlough program.

Roughly 40,000 layoffs were announced on Monday by a string of companies, including Pfizer, Caterpillar and Home Depot.

To stimulate job growth and the broader economy, President Barack Obama and Congress are racing to enact a $825 billion package of tax cuts and increased federal spending, including money for big public works projects.

The U.S. has been mired in a recession since December 2007. It is on track to be the longest downturn since World War II.

Written by Timberly Ross  as reported by AP

 

OMAHA, Neb. — Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says the U.S. is engaged in an “economic Pearl Harbor.”

In an interview that aired Sunday on “Dateline NBC,” the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said the nation’s economic situation is not as bad at World War II or the Great Depression, but it’s still pretty severe.

Buffett said Americans are in a cycle of fear, “which leads to people not wanting to spend and not wanting to make investments, and that leads to more fear. We’ll break out of it. It takes time.”

Buffett’s interview centered on President-elect Barack Obama and the tough task he faces in fixing the U.S. economy.

“You couldn’t have anybody better in charge,” the Omaha resident said of Obama, who’ll be sworn into office on Tuesday.

As one of Obama’s economic advisers, Buffett said the president-elect listens to what his advisers say, but ultimately comes up with better ideas.

He predicted that Obama will be able to convey the severity of the economic situation to the American people and explain their part in alleviating it.

As to how long the crisis would continue, Buffett said he didn’t know.

“It’s never paid to bet against America,” he said. “We come through things, but its not always a smooth ride.”

Omaha-based Berkshire owns a diverse mix of more than 60 companies, including insurance, furniture, carpet, jewelry, restaurants and utility businesses. And it has major investments in such companies as Wells Fargo & Co. and Coca-Cola Co.

 

Let us know your thoughts? you may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

Frigid temperatures and winter storms have blanketed the country from New Orleans to Chicago this month, weather that usually leads to a spike in the price of the most popular fuel for home heating, natural gas.

But not this year.

Natural-gas prices remain in a slump because manufacturers, which are even bigger users of gas than chilly homeowners, have cut back their operations in response to the recession. And low demand means low prices.

Associated Press

Despite a cold, stormy start to winter in much of the U.S., natural-gas prices have stayed relatively low as the recession hits industrial usage.

Despite an uptick this week, natural-gas futures have fallen 9% this month, to $5.910 per million British thermal units, and are down 16% from last year despite colder weather. Prices haven’t been this low in December since 2003.

Storage levels remain 3.4% higher than normal even after the frigid start to the season. According to federal data released Wednesday, the U.S. withdrew 147 billion cubic feet of gas from storage last week, about normal for this time of year, but less than would be expected after a bout of cold weather.

Boon for Consumers

Low prices are a rare piece of good news for consumers, who might get smaller bills this year for home heating and electricity.

But the price slump spells bad news for gas producers, who have been forced to slash spending on drilling, and for gas-producing states like Texas and Colorado, which had been shielded from the national economic slowdown by their strong energy industries.

[Natural Gas Futures]

The low prices come despite an unusually cold start to winter, which has seen rare snowstorms in New Orleans, Houston and Las Vegas, subzero temperatures in Chicago and a devastating ice storm in the Northeast.

Michael Schlacter, chief meteorologist for the forecasting service Weather 2000, said the weather so far this season has been the most extreme in at least eight years.

“Mother Nature’s doing all she can,” Mr. Schlacter said.

Manufacturing Downturn

But rising residential and commercial heating demand has run up against slumping industrial demand for natural gas, which is used to make everything from diapers to fertilizer.

“Industrial demand is going away in a big way,” said Abudi Zein, senior vice president at Genscape Inc., which monitors electricity generation and fuel supplies.

Forecasters expect the weather to warm up in at least parts of the country early in the new year, but industrial demand isn’t likely to recover for months because the recession has knocked down industries like auto manufacturing.

“We know industrial demand is going to be impacted in 2009 — it has to be,” said Dave Pursell, an analyst at energy-focused investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. in Houston. “Everything that goes into a car — steel, glass, plastic — is natural-gas intensive.”

Adding to the downward pressure on prices, natural-gas production has remained relatively high. Gas producers such as Chesapeake Energy Corp., Range Resources Corp. and Exco Resources Inc. have been slashing drilling budgets since autumn in response to falling prices. But it has taken months for those spending cuts to show up on the ground in the form of reduced drilling activity, and it will take months more for production to fall significantly.

Rebound Is Seen

Longer term, many analysts think prices are likely to rise. Tudor Pickering, for example, predicts gas will drop as low as $4.75 per million BTUs in the third quarter of 2009, but will rebound in 2010.

Subash Chandra, an analyst at Jefferies & Co., is predicting a faster recovery. Even though a lot of gas is in storage, he said, it can’t all be tapped right away, so the immediately available supply of gas is lower than many people think.

But after a year of ups and downs, no one can have much confidence in price predictions, he said. “Gas has thrown so many head-fakes in the past,” Mr. Chandra said. “Anybody who thinks they’ve had it figured out in December, even if they’re freezing their noses off, well, history tells a different story.”

Written by JEANNINE AVERSA | January 9, 2009 01:12 PM EST | AP

As reported in Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — The nation’s unemployment rate bolted to 7.2 percent in December, the highest level in 16 years, as nervous employers slashed 524,000 jobs, capping one of the worst years in modern history for American workers.

The Labor Department’s report, released Friday, underscored the grim toll the deepening recession is having on workers and companies. And it highlights the difficulty President-elect Barack Obama faces in resuscitating the flat-lined economy. This year has gotten off to a rough start with a flurry of big corporate layoffs, pointing to another year of hefty job reductions.

“There is no end in sight in terms of layoffs,” said economist Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics. “January could be worse because some companies put layoffs on hold because of holiday sensitivities.”

Not only are employers slashing jobs; they also are cutting workers’ hours and forcing some into part-time work. The average work week in December fell to 33.3 hours, the lowest level on records dating to 1964 _ and a sign of more job reductions in the months ahead, economists said.

Obama called the unemployment report “a stark reminder of how urgently action is needed” to revive the nation’s staggering economy. And Hilda Solis, his pick for labor secretary, called the job losses “a crisis situation” and said one of her initiatives would promote “green jobs” that could reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

For all of 2008, the economy lost a net total of 2.6 million jobs. It was the first time payrolls had fallen for a full year since 2002 and was the most since 1945, when nearly 2.8 million jobs were lost. Though the U.S. labor force has more than tripled since then, losses of this magnitude are still being painfully felt.

With employers throttling back hiring, the nation’s jobless rate averaged 5.8 percent last year. That was up sharply from 4.6 percent in 2007 and was the highest since 2003.

All told, 11.1 million people were unemployed in December. In addition, 8 million people were working part time _ a category that includes those who would like to work full time but whose hours were cut back or those who were unable to find full-time work. That was up sharply from 7.3 million in November.

While economists were forecasting even more payroll reductions in December _ around 550,000 _ job losses in both October and November turned out to be deeper than previously estimated. Revised figures showed employers slashed 584,000 positions in November and 423,000 in October.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, rose from 6.8 percent in November, to 7.2 percent last month, the highest since January 1993. Economists were expecting the jobless rate to rise to 7 percent.

During President George W. Bush’s nearly eight years in office, 3 million jobs were created. In President Clinton’s two terms, nearly 21 million jobs were generated.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported Friday that wholesale inventories dropped 0.6 percent in November, the third straight month of business cutbacks, while sales were down a record 7.1 percent. On Wall Street, stocks slid. The Dow Jones industrials lost more than 110 points in afternoon trading.

Job losses were widespread in December. Construction companies slashed 101,000, and manufacturers axed a a whopping 149,000 jobs. Professional and business services got rid of 113,000 jobs. Retailers eliminated nearly 67,000 jobs, and leisure and hospitality reduced employment by 22,000. That more than swamped gains in education and health care, and the government.

Employers are chopping costs as they try to cope with dwindling appetite from customers in the U.S. as well as in other countries, which are struggling with their own economic problems.

Workers with jobs saw modest wage gains. Average hourly earnings rose to $18.36 in December, up 0.3 percent from the previous month. Economists were expecting a 0.2 percent increase.

Over the year, wages have risen 3.7 percent, though high prices for energy and food earlier this year made people feel that their paychecks weren’t stretching that far.

The U.S. recession, which just entered its second year, is already the longest in a quarter-century and is likely to stretch well into this year. The fact that the country is battling a housing collapse, a lockup in lending and the worst financial crisis since the 1930s make the current downturn especially dangerous.

Corporate layoffs continue to pile up. G&K Services Inc., which provides uniforms and facility services, on Friday said it is eliminating 460 jobs as it aims to trim costs amid weak demand. And late Thursday, Intermec Inc., which makes electronic devices for tracking inventory, said it plans to cut 150 jobs, or 7 percent of its work force.

Earlier this week, drugstore operator Walgreen Co., managed care provider Cigna Corp., aluminum producer Alcoa Inc., data-storage company EMC Corp. and computer products maker Logitech International all announced major layoffs to cope with the recession.

All the problems have forced consumers and companies alike to retrench, feeding into a vicious cycle that Washington policymakers are finding difficult to break.

Obama says a bold approach is needed to bust through this cycle and revive economy.

“I don’t believe it’s too late to change course, but it will be if we don’t take dramatic action as soon as possible,” he said Thursday.

“If nothing is done, this recession could linger,” Obama warned. “The unemployment rate could reach double digits.”

Obama, who takes over Jan. 20, is promoting a huge package of tax cuts and government spending that could total $775 billion over two years. With add-ons by lawmakers, the package could swell to $850 billion, his advisers say.

Even with a new government stimulus and the Federal Reserve’s decision to ratchet down a key interest rate to an all-time low, the unemployment rate is expected to keep rising. Some economists think it could hit 9 or 10 percent at the end of this year.

Our Perspective:

Where will all this end? 

This is the result of always putting bandaids on everything.

Politicians are always running for re-election so they can’t focus on long term solutions, their results have to be measurable, for they will be held accountable for them. 

Maybe it is time to bring in a new type of focus. It seems President Obama is banging the drum. Is anybody listening?

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

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.

 

 

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