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How Bad Unemployment Is Guaranteed to Get Worse

Flush_hope.jpgEditor’s Note: Want more JDA? You can see all of her posts for GC here, her blog here and stalk her on Twitter.
I try most of the time not to jerk myself off but this is important and worth paying attention to. Until the grand money laundering scheme is finally put out of commission, economic “recovery” will continue to drag, unemployment will continue to rise and credit will remain tight.
So check out “How a Jobless ‘Recovery’ Costs You… Quietly” for more on the plan to print our way out of this mess. Sort of like Enron after Ken Lay’s convenient death, it’s obvious what’s been going on once you realize the details are painfully simple.
Anyway, the strategy moving forward into 2010 will be one of cautious optimism. Hell, calling it optimism is pushing it.


Business Week (Why This Business Owner Isn’t Hiring in 2010):

Right now the Administration is proposing income taxes that are still equivalent to the rates during the Clinton era. I’m not sure how long this is going to last before the rates start going up. And I’m reading that many states are quietly raising their unemployment taxes. Some experts are estimating that state unemployment taxes could double or even triple in the next year or two. Is an increase in the Federal Unemployment Tax rate on the horizon? One expert thinks so.

Read that again just to make sure it sinks in. Increased unemployment taxes is bad enough a phrase on its own but add the words “double” and “triple” and suddenly you see small business walking blindly into the train tunnel with the 5p Bridge and Tunnel Express coming straight for it.
AccountingWeb reported the potential increase on December 17:

States that have borrowed money from the federal government under the Federal Unemployment Trust Act (FUTA) to cover their current obligations will need to pay this money back with interest.
According to the Journal of State Taxation, at least 12 states, including Michigan, Texas, and Virginia, with depleted trust fund balances had borrowed from the federal government under FUTA provisions of by the end of the summer, and others are expected to follow suit. States that accepted interest-free loans offered under ARRA (the Stimulus Act) will need to pay interest on these loans after two years.

There’s probably some really offensive translation of the FUTA acronym I’m missing here but frankly I’m just tired of having to report on this depressing shit. Looks like another exciting year ahead! Yay!

Crain’s: The Party Is Over for Accountants in Chicago

chicago.jpgCrain’s is calling it for accounting firms in Chicago. After a seven-year SOX funded rager, everyone is sobering up. You’re all familiar with some of the usual suspects. But even smaller firms, who have often benefited from lower fee structures are feeling the pain:

Jeffrey DeYoung, regional managing partner at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP (formerly Virchow Krause & Co. LLP) in Chicago, says that up to 20% of the firm’s clients have asked for fee reductions…The firm cut staff by 5% to 7% and hired 30% to 40% fewer employees this year, a trend it will continue next year.

The story at BTVK sounds all too familiar but at least one firm, Crowe Horwath, has claimed that it’s doing everything possible to avoid layoffs:

The firm has kept its workforce of 2,400 intact by shifting employees from hard-hit units such as construction and manufacturing into four main areas: financial institutions, health care, private equity and government. In addition, 30% to 40% of employees have used alternative work arrangements in the past year, including sabbaticals, reduced work schedules and paid time off during slow seasons, to help defray costs. “Our strategy is to keep as many people as possible,” [CEO, Chuck] Allen says.

However, firms like BDO are done whining about the past and looking for growth in the coming year even if it won’t be as good as in year’s past:

Stephen Ferrara, partner and regional business line leader at BDO Seidman LLP in Chicago, predicts an increase for 2010 as companies begin investing in business and infrastructure. “Companies who are riding out the storm and running lean and mean will be poised to make investments again sometime in 2010,” he says. “We don’t expect it to get back to the level of six years ago, but we do expect growth.”

We like the optimism but is legit? Crain’s seems to think that this accounting racket is in for some tough times from partners comp to more competition among hiring of new recruits.
If you work at a smaller firm in the Chicago area let us know what you think Crain’s assessment about the situation. Feel free to opine on your firm’s prospects and the outlook in the Windy City.
Accounting’s day of reckoning [Chicago Business]

Crain’s: New York CPA Firms’ Employment Down 7%

Thumbnail image for thumbs down col.gifHopefully it’s not too early for bad numbers. Crain’s New York put some together to give you an idea about how bad the employment picture has gotten for accountants in the past year.
The total number of accounting professionals for the top 25 firms in New York was more than 23,176 as of June 30, 2009.
That number is down from 24,909, or 7% from the previous year. The Big 4 horsemen account for two-thirds of this total and, not surprisingly, they all reported drops:
Continued, after the jump

No. 1-ranked KPMG cut 13% of its professional staff, or 681 employees. No. 4, Deloitte, was not far behind in job shrinkage, with a decline of 378 staffers in the New York area, or 11.7%. Pricewaterhouse reported 350 fewer professional, or a 9.2% decline. Of the four, Ernst & Young posted the smallest loss: a drop of only 1.6%, or 67 professionals.

Crain’s list of details on the top five firms (Big 4 + RSM McGladrey) shows additional data, including KPMG having over 10% more total professionals in New York than the next highest, PwC.
Smaller firms including CBIZ Mahoney Cohen & MHM Mahoney Cohen CPAs (probably the most ridiculously long name for firm we’ve ever seen) and Weiser also experienced significant drops:

CBIZ Mahoney Cohen & MHM Mahoney Cohen CPAs, which saw a loss of 53 professionals, or 22.7%, despite last December’s acquisition of Mahoney Cohen by CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann…Weiser…reported a decline of 10.7%, or 42 professionals.

Sorry for all the gloom. Here are some small bright spots:
• Eisner, hired 120 professionals, an increase of 25%
• Marks, Paneth & Shron, 47 and 13.4%
• Seymour Shapss Martin & Co, 20 and 11.7%
You don’t have to be John Nash to see that the drop by the Big 4 overtake any increases by the smaller shops. And seven percent seems like a pretty significant drop but what the hell do we know?
Discuss your firm’s (or former firm’s) numbers in the comments and feel free to speculate on the job outlook for the coming year. It’s not like it could get worse. Could it?
A hard number for accountants: 7% fewer jobs [Crain’s New York]