T100 regions defy economic gravity
BY ROGER RUSSELL
The Top 100 regional firms grew
overall during 2008 despite the
downturn that gripped the U.S.
economy during most of the year.
Signs of a slowing economy were
numerous: unemployment up, home
sales and home prices down, manufacturing down, and inflation at its lowest
level since 1954. At the end of the year,
the national unemployment rate rose to
7.2 percent, up 2.3 percentage points
from a year earlier.
Reports from the 12 Federal Reserve
Districts in March showed a slowdown
from the beginning of the year, according to the Federal Reserve Beige Book.
Two thirds of the districts cited softening or weakening in the pace of business
activity. The Fed’s October Report
showed a weakening across all 12 districts and its December report showed
that weakness continued across all districts. Both retail sales and vehicle sales
were down, reports on the service sector
were generally negative, and manufacturing activity, residential housing and
commercial real estate markets declined
in most districts.
Agricultural conditions were mixed,
with a relatively good harvest, but concerns about profitability. Mining and
energy production and exploration
began softening, and labor market conditions were weakening.
down. Both districts also reported a
decline in manufacturing activity, and
commercial and residential real estate
The region’s 17 Top 100 Firms reported revenue of $1.92 billion in 2008,
an increase from 2007 of 8 percent.
A Business strategy: Top firms in
the Central Midwest named attest services, wealthy individuals, business recovery/recession advice, business valuations, estate/trust/gift tax planning,
forensics/fraud, international tax, SOX
compliance, and state and local taxes as
their fastest growing specialty services.
The client categories cited most frequently as growing included banking,
colleges and universities, health care
facilities, manufacturing, nonprofit organizations, real estate, and state and
$1.58 billion in 2008, an increase of
more than 16 percent over 2007.
A Business strategy: Firms in the
New York Metro area most frequently
listed attest services, business recovery/recession advice, IFRS consulting,
international tax, wealthy individuals,
and litigation support as their top specialty services. The top client categories
included broker/dealers in securities
and commodities, manufacturing, nonprofit organizations, pension plans, real
estate, retail trade, and technology.
A Economic outlook: Michigan, Illinois
and Indiana placed second, fourth and
fifth in having the largest over-the-month decrease in the level of employment at year end. Michigan led all states
with the highest jobless rate at 10. 6 percent. Consumer spending weakened,
with the Cleveland and Chicago Federal
Reserve Districts reporting retail sales
NEW YORK METRO
A Economic outlook: Both New York
and New Jersey ended the year with an
increase in unemployment percentage
over 2007 figures: New York increased
from 6 percent to 7 percent, and New
Jersey from 6.1 to 7.1 percent.
At mid-year, consumer spending
was mixed, while sales at discount
stores were growing in New York City.
However, sales at most other types of
stores, especially for discretionary and
housing-related items, were weak.
By year’s end, New York reported fall
tourism down, activity in the services
sector contracting, and weakening loan
demand in all categories. Vacancy rates
rose over the year, and rents fell. On a
good note, firms across a wide range of
industries reported that their selling
prices leveled off.
The 16 Top 100 Firms in the New
York Metro area grew their revenue to
A Economic outlook: Rhode Island
closed the year with the second highest
jobless rate in the nation, at 10 percent.
Pennsylvania ended the year with unemployment at 6. 7 percent, and Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and
Vermont all had significant increases in
their unemployment rates.
By the end of the year, retail sales
were steady compared with early fall,
but were lower than the previous year.
Reductions in manufacturing orders
were noted in the Boston and Philadelphia districts, with leasing activity
and rents falling. Philadelphia indicated
that its banks saw loan volume rise
toward the end of the year.
Combined revenue for the Northeast’s 14 Top 100 Firms increased to
about $920 million in 2008, a growth of
nearly 10 percent over 2007.
A Business strategy: The niche
services most frequently cited as growing were attest services, business valuations, forensics/fraud, international tax,
and litigation support. Top client categories were banking and thrift companies, colleges and universities, construction, manufacturing, pension plans,
See REGIONS on