Economy & Business

Economy & Business news from 90.5 WESA.

How to Set and Achieve Goals in the Workplace

Jan 30, 2014
http://www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/1264424156/ / Flickr

We’re in the first month of a new year and chances are you’ve made resolutions to improve aspects of your life.

Whether it’s finding a new job or making the most of your current position, having a strategy is a good starting point.

Sasha King, an independent career consultant, offers up some tips on how to set goals at work.

A measles outbreak at a past Super Bowl has state officials concerned for the health of guests visiting Northern New Jersey for this year’s matchup. To contain any possible outbreaks, the New Jersey Department of Public Health has enlisted the help of a Pittsburgh company to take a proactive step against any health problems.

Super Bowl Viewers to Order 1.23 Billion Chicken Wings

Jan 28, 2014
Anthony Quintano / flickr

While the beloved Steelers won’t be playing in this year’s Super Bowl, residents of the City of Champions still enjoy watching the annual football game.

As one of the largest watched TV broadcasts each year, the economic impact of the football game reaches all facets of the tradition.

Super Bowl revenue includes everything from commercial payments to transportation and restaurant packages. This year the game will be played on February 2nd at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Rebecca Harris, business contributor and Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University explains that this game will be a first for shared hosting by New Jersey and New York, as well as the first time the game will be played outdoors in cold weather conditions.

Pennsylvania's rural areas are facing hard economic times, and a state lawmaker believes that tourism could be the answer.

“Pennsylvania is one of the largest rural states in the union, and when you look statistically it is our rural Pennsylvania that has the highest unemployment rates and I think it needs to be addressed,” said state Sen. John Wozniak (D-Cambria).

Though it has been speculated it would happen since the merger between American Airlines and US Airways, it was made official Friday.

American Airlines announced it is moving its operation center in Moon Township to Dallas. That means 600 jobs will leave the area.

“I guess the good news is, those 600 will be hired, they have the option of working, obviously they’ll have to relocate, and they’ll have to move to Dallas,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

For this region, he said the announcement is not good news, thought it wasn’t unexpected.

Why Today is a Good Day to Buy a Convertible

Jan 21, 2014
David Defoe / Flickr

One thing you couldn’t escape during the holiday season were year end close out deals enticing you to purchase a new car. But, when is the best time to buy a new car?

Should you buy American or foreign, new or used? This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of car buying. 

More than 1.6 million Pennsylvanians, or about 1 in 8 state residents, live in poverty.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) believes he knows how to lower that number.

He released a report Tuesday that showed the income inequality among Pennsylvania counties in 2012.

It revealed that the commonwealth has a poverty level of 13.3 percent, which is below the national rate of 15 percent.

Philadelphia County had the highest rate of poverty at 26.2 percent while Bucks County had the lowest at 5.8 percent.

The Innovation Practice Institute Innovates Law School Education

Jan 17, 2014
Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

As our technology evolves and the economy becomes increasingly entrepreneurial, the role of the lawyer and law school is changing.

Stephanie Dangel, Executive Director of the Innovation Practice Institute says with the changing economy, 40% of lawyers are not currently practicing law, and 30% of students in law school do not intend to be lawyers.

Revenue from Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos dipped 1.4 percent in 2013 to $3.1 billion. That’s the first time the industry has experienced an overall decline in revenue since casino play began in 2006.

“We saw a little up, we saw a little down,” said Doug Harbach, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. “Table games continue to be a growing segment. We saw their revenue go up around 6 percent. A slight decrease in slot machines, but that’s not unexpected.”

Legislation has been introduced in the state House that will create an incentive program to fund workforce-training programs through a tax credit.  Representative Eli Evankovich (R-Westmoreland) authored the Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Strategy Act which he says will better coordinate current workforce investment programs.

“We’ve visited dozens of businesses across the state of Pennsylvania and workforce development stands to be the most important issue that face business here in Pennsylvania that I’ve encountered.” 

The Business and Popularity of Knitting

Jan 14, 2014
Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Whether its mittens, afghans or sweaters, knitting has made a comeback in recent years. Young and old are spinning yarns and contributor Rebecca Harris, has been looking at the business of knitting.

She finds that while many think of knitting as something for the old, an increasing number of young people are taking the time to learn to spin yarn as a means of building communities.

Many of the stores that sell yarn and supplies have a large part in this trend. 

The Larger Implications of the Target Data Breach

Jan 13, 2014
j.reed / flickr

The massive data breach that occurred at Target stores at the beginning of the holiday season was thought to affect 40 million customers.

With estimates expanded Friday to more than 100 million, it’s believed that names, mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses have been compromised along with credit and debit card numbers.

The questions now are, "Is this attack different than other security breaches?" and "What should a person do who has been affected by this type of a security breach?" Answering these questions are Andy Tornasi, a Federal Project Manager for Tiversa, and Orion Czarnecki, a Cyber Forensic Analyst at Tiversa.

Tornasi says this breach is different from any case he has dealt with in the past.

“This is the first time that I ever heard of malware affecting the point of sale for a particular store."

Czarnecki has this advice for those who were affected by the Target breach or the recent breach at Neiman Marcus stores.

Home sales in the Pittsburgh region jumped 7.2 percent last year compared to 2012. 

Barbara Kohl, chief operating officer of the West Penn Multi-List, said the numbers are “surprising” because the previous year also had “strong growth.”

“Everything clicked, consumer confidence came back, interest rates stayed low; the only problem is we don’t have enough inventory,” Kohl said.

Why Mayor Peduto Wants Act 47 to Stay, for Now

Jan 10, 2014
Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

In 2003, the city of Pittsburgh was operating under a debt burden of more than 20% of its operating budget. Pools and recreation centers had to close and hundreds of city employees, including police officers were laid off.

Pittsburgh was declared financially distressed and placed under Act 47 oversight.

As the local economy has stabilized, former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, along with Act 47 coordinators have said the city is ready to be released. But Pittsburgh's new Mayor Bill Peduto is asking Governor Corbett to keep the city under Act 47 oversight to allow his administration to work on a final recovery plan.

29 Tablets Bringing Electronic Manufacturing to Homewood

Jan 10, 2014
Intel Free Press / Flickr

In Homewood Friday, a symposium called 29 Tablets was dedicated to the possibility of manufacturing tablet computers in Homewood. It's the first in a series of community-oriented symposiums.

The leaders of this project, Andrew Thornhill, founder of Thornhill & Studio and Elwin Green, of the hyperlocal news site Homewood Nation, say the concept would benefit of entrepreneurs and bring diverse job creation to the struggling neighborhood.

Nick Frost / 90.5 WESA

There are many emerging companies that blur the lines of for profit endeavor with a non-profit mission, these social entrepreneurs, as they are called, are concerned with both financial sustainability and social impact.

Ian Rosenberger, founder of Thread International, an East Liberty based company recycling plastic bottles in Haiti for use in the manufacturing of apparel is one of these social entrepreneurs. Tim Zak, Director of the Institute for Social Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University studies innovators such as Ian.

The Business of Outdoor Winter Recreation

Jan 7, 2014
Marcus Charleston

Now that the holidays are over there are plenty of long gray days ahead.

Rather than give in to cabin fever, strap on some skis or snowshoes, get outdoors and enjoy the white stuff!

Business contributor Rebecca Harris has been looking at the business of winter recreation and shares some interesting info about the profitability of the ski industry, how resorts are focusing on sustainability, and some local ideas for a snow day.

If you’re used to filing your taxes early in the new year, you’re going to have to wait.

Not only did the 16-day government shutdown delay almost $4 billion in tax refunds — it’s delaying the 2014 tax filing season.

The Internal Revenue Service announced that the 2014 tax filing season will begin Jan. 31.

“It’s about ten days later than we had originally planned to start out and that’s due to the government shutdown that lasted for a couple of weeks … early to mid-October time frame,” said IRS spokeswoman Jennifer Jenkins.

The commonwealth's number one industry is being saluted this week during the 98th Pennsylvania Farm Show, which opened Saturday and continues through Jan. 11 in Harrisburg. 

Agricultural income totals about $6.6 billion with dairy production as the leading component. Pennsylvania is home to more than 62,000 farms averaging 124 acres.

State Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks), the minority chair of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said the eight-day show is themed, “Pennsylvania Farms: Growing for You,” and is the largest indoor agricultural event in the country.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) might have same-sex married couples worried about what changes are in store for them this tax season. But Joseph Nicola of Sisterson & Co., a Pittsburgh accounting firm, says filing shouldn’t be any more difficult than last year.

Nicola said the Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor means that married same-sex couples can take advantage of more benefits.

A recent PNC survey found that many millennials, a group generally considered born in the 1980s and 1990s, are not saving money, but they'd like to.

More than 3,000 people were surveyed, and 56 percent identified savings and budgeting as their biggest financial issue. The problem is many millennials don’t know where to start when it comes to saving.

When Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services’ top economist looks forward to 2014, he is doing it with cautious optimism.

“We think we can sustain (good economic growth) for at least one more year and maybe for several beyond that,” said PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman.

Hoffman thinks the economy will see GDP growth inching up and unemployment inching down. By the end of 2014 Hoffman is predicting GDP growth of 2.5 percent and an unemployment rate of about 6.5 percent. 

On the local employment front, new jobs in construction will lead the way.

The 2013 economy might have stumbled a bit coming out of the gate, but at least one local economist says it recovered well.

“As the year went on it gathered some momentum,” said PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman.

The year began with “sequestration” which reduced government spending nearly across the board and made several tax law changes including a hike in the payroll tax from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent, a phase out a some key tax exemptions, an increase to the so-called death tax, and an increase in the top marginal tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. 

Retailers in the Pittsburgh region have their fingers crossed that business will pick up in the days leading to the New Year after disappointing sales figures leading up to Christmas.

“After Christmas sales are going to be extremely important to retailers because the holiday season wasn’t as strong as they hoped, and as a result, they want to get us in the stores and keep us there spending money,” said Duquesne University marketing professor Audrey Guskey.

Nick Frost / 90.5 WESA

Apple has chosen a Pittsburgh-born app as its free app of the year.

Duolingo teaches people how to speak a new language, and it's been downloaded more than 10 million times since being released a year ago. 

Duolingo CEO Louis Von Ahn said more than a billion people are trying to learn a new language. He believes two-thirds of them are from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder, and the reason they are learning a new language is because they are trying to get ahead in life.

The first phase of a riverfront revitalization project north of Pittsburgh is now complete.

The official ribbon cutting ceremony for Bridge Street freight access took place Thursday morning. It's an effort that has been in development for about a decade.

“The road was in horrible condition, and the business fronting the road makes specialty window systems, and for a number of years they weren’t able to use the road effectively because of the potholes and such,” said Iris Whitworth, executive director of the Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone (ARTEZ).

Dyanna Hyde / Flickr

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers has introduced a bill to create a "Made in PA" program, complete with a logo and website to encourage consumers to purchase products made close to home.

State Rep. Eli Evankovich and David Taylor, executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association, say consumers already look for labels such as "Made in the USA," while shopping.

Namaste and the Business of Yoga in Pittsburgh

Dec 17, 2013
BYS yoga studio / Facebook

From the downward sun salutation, to the archer, yoga enthusiasts are striking poses across the country. And yoga studios are springing up everywhere.

According to business contributor Rebecca Harris, the classic techniques of yoga date back more than 5 thousand years, and come from a desire to develop greater personal freedom, health, and self understanding.

An increase in deals and consumer confidence is drawing more shoppers to online retailers than ever before, and with this comes an increase in packages.

United States Postal Service spokesman Tad Kelley says that they’re seeing a rise in shipments over last holiday season.

“We’re looking at 15 percent above our normal packages we would handle from last year," Kelley said. "We’re doing a couple hundred thousand packages a day here through the Western Pennsylvania district.”

Many Pennsylvanians will start the New Year with a little extra money in their pockets, but that’s only if they apply for a tax rebate rebate.

The Department of Revenue is encouraging eligible adults to apply for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program before the deadline on Dec. 31.

Department spokeswoman Maia Warren said the holidays are a great time to remind older friends and relatives to apply.

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