Economy & Business

Economy
11:56 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Amazon.com to Begin Collecting PA Sales Tax

Beginning Saturday, Amazon.com Inc. will start collecting Pennsylvania sales tax on orders that are shipped to the state, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The online retail giant had previously refused to register to collect Pennsylvania's 6 percent levy on its orders. But a spokesman said the company reversed itself because a state directive requiring it takes effect Saturday.

"We believe that customers (in Pennsylvania) will continue to come to Amazon because we offer the best prices with or without sales tax," said the spokesman, Scott Stanzel.

Read more
Economy
7:04 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Prepares For Layoffs

Faced with a two to two-and-a-half million dollar deficit for 2012-13, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is making cuts in programs and getting ready to layoff some of its 180 employees at its offices.

Diocesan spokesman Reverend Ron Lengwin says the 2011-12 budget was 23.2 million dollars but the 2012-13 spending plan is 21 million.  Lengwin said they began trimming costs earlier this year, "but we've reached the point now that in order to balance our budget it will be necessary to reduce from our excellent workforce."  

Read more
Economy
8:25 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Coal Summit Calls on Legislators

A bi-partisan and multi-faceted summit on the coal industry Friday in Pittsburgh allowed government officials, workers, and corporations to comment on the issues surrounding the burning coal for electricity.  Everything from jobs to clean coal technology was discussed.  There was no clear general consensus, but all seemed to agree coal remains a large industry in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says a national energy policy should work towards clean coal burning.

Read more
Economy
6:00 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

PA Unemployment Rate Up For 2nd Straight Month

Despite staying under the national rate of 8.3 percent, Pennsylvania’s jobless rate jumped from 7.6 percent in June to 7.9 percent in July. Over the past four months, the number of jobs in the state has decreased, following a two month increase in February and March. The unemployment rate was down 0.2 percent from July 2011.

The State Department of Labor and Industry reported 10,000 more people were looking for jobs in July while resident employment was down 10,000. The number of unemployed residents rose by 21,000. The labor force was up 110,000 above July 2011’s level.

Read more
Economy
7:00 am
Mon August 13, 2012

PUC Studied Power Companies' Responses To Outages

As many Pittsburghers were reminded in July, inclement weather can cause major power outages, which also results in problems for the state’s electric distribution companies (EDCs). Three reports released by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) detail the corrective actions being taken related to severe weather in 2011. Jennifer Kocher, Press Secretary for the PUC, said collectively, the reports were centered around the storm-related power outages.

Read more
Economy
7:00 am
Mon August 13, 2012

U.S. Chamber Report Cites Union Favoritism in State Law

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Union Report Web.mp3

With a national focus on union-related policies in recent years, including Wisconsin’s recent recall election, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wanted to examine state laws and how they relate to labor unions.

Read more
Economy
5:15 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

National Bid-Rigging Scheme Settlement Pays Out

Pennsylvania is set to receive approximately $11.5 million in restitution as part of a multi-state bid-rigging case involving major financial institutions. These large-scale companies marketed and sold municipal derivative investments, which are primarily used by government agencies and non-profit groups to reinvest the proceeds of tax-exempt bonds until funds are needed.

Read more
Economy
4:26 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

US Trade Rep Touts Pittsburgh for Export Potential

The White House brought its message of increasing US exports and decreasing outsourcing to Pittsburgh Friday with a stop at Pittsburgh International Airport and a meeting with Steel Workers Union leadership. United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Ron Kirk, said by focusing on those two goals more jobs will be created in the US.

Kirk said it is important to focus on Pittsburgh's success and potential. "Last year for example, Pennsylvania business exported almost $41 billion. That's a 118 percent increase over 2002. 217,000 [PA] jobs are supported by exports," said Kirk.

Read more
Economy
3:45 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

Small Businesses Will Have Equal Opportunities When Bidding For State Contracting

Small businesses have been called up to the big leagues as they now have the opportunities to compete for state contracts as heavy hitters. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced new efforts to provide equal footing for self-certified and veteran-owned small businesses to bid on procurements.

Troy Thompson, Press Secretary for the Department of General Services, said the Small Business Procurement Initiative will give companies with 100 or fewer employees and meet maximum revenue requirements a chance to prove they are capable of being prime contractors.

Read more
Economy
6:30 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Midwest Drought Might Drain Pockets in PA

The drought in the Midwest is bad enough to cause economic ripple effects across the country, including noticeable price hikes in Pennsylvania grocery stores in coming months, according to PNC economist Kurt Rankin.

"The drought may not affect western Pennsylvania directly, although I haven't had to cut the grass quite as much this summer," Rankin said, "but we will see the price increases."

Read more
Economy
4:00 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Pennsylvania's Debt Downgrade has Wide Impact

Pennsylvania's recent debt downgrade means it may cost the state more to borrow money, because investors will want to pay less for taking on riskier debt, but the effect of the lower score might be more political than financial.

The drop from Aa1 to Aa2 by Moody's Investor Service is likely to have a small effect on typical investors who invest in state bonds, but analysts are taking note of the major reason given for the change: ballooning pension costs expected to hit the state in increasingly large waves over the next several years.

Read more
Economy
5:45 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

U.S. Voters Rate Manufacturing Job Creation as Top Economic Priority

A new poll released by the American Alliance of Manufacturing finds a majority of likely voters list jobs and, more specifically, manufacturing jobs, as a top priority. 53% of those surveyed rated manufacturing as most important to the overall strength of the American economy.

"Voters are hearing more about manufacturing from a variety of sources, but they feel little is getting done. Manufacturing is seen as a critical and irreplaceable part of the economy and our place in the world," said Mark Mellman, CEO of the Mellman Group.

Read more
Economy
8:07 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Corbett Touts Ethane Cracker Tax Credit, Business Tax Changes

Governor Tom Corbett toured the US Steel Clairton Plant on Monday, taking the opportunity to praise the pro-business aspects of the new state budget.

Corbett said until the current budget year, companies had been paying more in taxes the more employees and property they'd had in Pennsylvania.

Read more
Economy
12:30 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

Labor Activists Rally Against Outsourcing

Toting signs reading "Bring Jobs Home," several dozen labor activists crowded the lawn of the United Steelworkers building on Monday to demand passage for U.S. Senate Bill 2884.

The bill would end tax incentives for companies that move their workforces overseas. Under the legislation, tax credits would be given to companies who move jobs back to the United States.

United Steelworkers International Secretary Treasurer Stan Johnson said the U.S. has lost about six million industrial jobs over the last decade.

Read more
Economy & Business
4:00 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Advocacy Group For Homeless Veterans Asking Government For More Help

Monday, June 25, 2012

An estimated 150,000 American veterans are homeless or become homeless upon returning from overseas, and an advocacy group said the government is not doing enough to alleviate the issue. The Circle of Friends for American Veterans (COFAV) reported 150,000 are without shelter with only 1/10 of 1% of the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) $130 billion budget supporting homeless veterans.

Read more
Economy
3:00 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Advocacy Group For Homeless Veterans Asking Government For More Help

An estimated 150,000 American veterans are homeless or become homeless upon returning from overseas, and an advocacy group said the government is not doing enough to alleviate the issue. The Circle of Friends for American Veterans (COFAV) reported 150,000 are without shelter with only 1/10 of 1% of the Department of Veteran Affairs' (VA) $130 billion budget supporting homeless veterans.

Read more
Economy
5:15 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Community Leaders Want UPMC Unions

Faith and community leaders in the region are calling on the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center not to thwart unionization of its employees. They claim the health system is currently violating workers' rights. They held a demonstration outside UPMC Shadyside Wednesday afternoon.

Reverend David Thornton, pastor of the Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church, said the goal is to press UPMC to work towards justice and equity for its workers.

Read more
Economy
7:00 am
Mon June 18, 2012

State Treasury Looking To Return Unclaimed Property to Soutwestern Pennsylvania

The commonwealth is looking to return approximately $133 million in unclaimed property to residents, businesses, and organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania. It is part of about $1.8 billion the Pennsylvania Treasury currently holds.

Treasurer Rob McCord said everyone should inquire if they are owed money. "Almost all of us had some little bank account somewhere, or a forgotten or uncashed check, or contents of the safe deposit box of some relative that maybe passed a decade ago, and you'd be amazed at how long that unclaimed property lingers," McCord said.

Read more
Economy
7:00 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Foreign-Born Small Business Owners Contribute To Pittsburgh Economy

Small businesses are important to the national economy, and a new study released by the Fiscal Policy Institute [PDF] shows an increasing number of foreign-born business owners in Pittsburgh and across the country.

In the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, U.S.-born small business owners represent 2.5% of the U.S.-born labor force, while foreign-born small business owners make up 3% of the foreign-born labor force.

Read more
Economy
8:15 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

U.S. Labor Secretary Announces National Workforce Grant in Pittsburgh

Nearly $147 million dollars in federal grants will be given to develop and expand strategies to help Americans return to work in fields that are currently hurting for workers. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis visited Carnegie Mellon University to announce the funding, and to tour the university's Planetary Robotics Lab.

Read more
Economy
8:20 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Chamber of Commerce Wants to Know How Pittsburgh Keeps Strong Job Market

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has been invited to speak to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this Thursday about the Pittsburgh area's strong job market.

Fitzgerald said the region's job growth can't be chalked up to a single industry. He said the burgeoning Marcellus Shale natural gas sector is only a "piece of it."

"Marcellus Shale has certainly been one area, but they've been developing shale [gas] all over the country," said Fitzgerald. "Down in Texas, up in Wyoming, Louisiana, Oklahoma — it's not like we're the only ones."

Read more
Economy
7:45 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Senate Bill Could Save Many Pennsylvanians From Foreclosure

A program which has been credited with saving 46,000 homes from foreclosure in Pennsylvania has been given a new life and funding.

HEMAP, the Homeowners Emergency Assistance Program, was established in the commonwealth in 1983. The state spent $245 million on the program, which generated repayments to the state of $275 million. However, under Governor Corbett, funding for the program dried up and no new participants in HEMAP have been accepted since last September.

Read more
Economy
6:27 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Governor Signs Unemployment Compensation Reform Bill – Opponents Fear the Worst

Governor Tom Corbett has signed Senate Bill 1310, which will allow the state to sell as much as $4.5 billion in bonds to pay off its $3.87 billion debt to the federal government plus interest. It also limits eligibility for unemployment benefits to reduce spending. Some opponents have called the bill an attempt by the governor and the legislature to chip away at the unemployment system.

Read more
Economy
5:15 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

New Leader For SMC Business Councils

Steve Shivak has been named the new president of the SMC Business Councils after a three-month search that included reviewing about 20 candidates. Shivak succeeds Tom Henschke, who resigned in late March. Shivak, who will be SMC's fifth president, said he is eager to work with the 60-year-old Pittsburgh-based organization that helps Pennsylvania businesses grow.

"My role is to take that storied history and bring it back so that whether you're a small business or you're a manufacturer you'll look to SMC to help you succeed," Shivak said.

Read more
Economy
8:45 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Highmark Names New CEO

William Winkenwerder, M.D. will be the new president and CEO of Highmark starting in July. Winkenwerder was Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs from 2001 to 2007, where he led the Military Health System's 132,000 personnel and served as the principal medical advisor to Secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates. Most recently, he founded and led a health care consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia.

Read more

Pages