SEC filings for Phila. firms show employment down 4.8 pct.

There was a flurry of another sort Thursday as public companies rushed to file their annual reports.

I started noticing a steady accumulation of Form 10-K filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission over the last few days. It used to be that public companies had to file them within 90 days of the end of their fiscal year.

However, the agency changed the rules to prod large companies to file sooner, generally 60 days after they closed their books for the year. Given that most companies are on a calendar year basis, that 60-day deadline is fast approaching.

I realize the idea of reading page after page of management-speak and consolidated financial statements on a computer screen sounds about as appealing as shoveling out your car again.

But here’s one reason why you should: Once a year, companies must report how many employees they have, and the 10-K is the document in which they do it.

I looked at Form 10-Ks filed by 25 companies based in the Philadelphia region with fiscal years ending during the second half of 2009. They ranged from Innovative Solutions & Support Inc. with 2009 revenues of $36.7 million to AmerisourceBergen Corp. with $70.1 billion. (None were banks.)

The group includes some of the region’s biggest and best-known companies, such as Comcast and Sunoco. Sixteen had revenues greater than $1 billion.

All told, those companies employed 448,166 people worldwide as of the end of their fiscal years. That number includes full- and part-time employees as well as temporary help and contractors. The total is down by 22,581 employees, or 4.8 percent, from the previous year.

Only eight of the 25 added employees during 2009. The biggest percentage increase was registered by Checkpoint Systems Inc. The Thorofare developer of anti-theft systems for retailers increased its workforce by 49 percent, to 5,785 in 2009 from 3,878.

The biggest percentage decline occurred at the luxury home builder Toll Bros. Inc. as its workforce fell 35 percent to 2,066 from 3,160.

While that 4.8 percent drop in overall employment is a downer, the decline isn’t as bad as the 11.6 percent slide in revenues and 45.4 percent plunge in net income reported by those 25 companies between 2008 and 2009.