Economy & Business

Economy & Business news from 90.5 WESA.

An Essential Pittsburgh public forum on maintaining our architectural heritage while cultivating new and sustainable development, recorded at the Community Broadcast Center on the South Side Wednesday November 28, 2012. Hear the audio and view the slide shows presented at the forum to the right and below.

Historic Preservation and Renovation in Pittsburgh

More Pennsylvanians complained about their utility service in 2011 than complained in 2010. However, the majority of them had a pleasant experience working with the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to resolve their problems.

Walt Disney Corporation, Wal-Mart, Dish Network, and now Pittsburgh-based American Eagle Outfitters are just some of the many companies that have announced they are moving up their dividend payments.

American Eagle announced today they are moving up the payment of its first quarter dividend from April to December 28th.

Brian Koble, director of research at Hefren-Tillotson, an investment advisory and financial planning firm based in Pittsburgh, said companies are trying to take advantage of lower taxes on dividend payments this year. Fiscal CLiff PA.mp3

Salvation Army Already Behind

Nov 29, 2012

Bakery Square Expansion Moving Forward

Nov 26, 2012

The successful office and retail development of Bakery Square in Larimer is on track to gain more property and add buildings.

After a special zoning proposal for "Bakery Square 2.0" drew no opposition at a public hearing before Pittsburgh City Council on Monday, the legislation will come before council on Wednesday for a preliminary vote.

If the special zoning is approved, developer Walnut Capital could demolish the former Reizenstein Middle School in January to make way for new construction across the street from the current Bakery Square site on Penn Avenue.

Income Inequality a Growing Problem in Pennsylvania

Nov 26, 2012

Much like the rest of the nation, Pennsylvania has experienced a widening gap between the wages earned by low-income and higher-income people over the last decade.

Small Business Saturday

Nov 24, 2012 Local Feature_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

The Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is no longer in limbo.  The day sandwiched by two shopping frenzies provoked by large retailers is now “Small Business Saturday.” It’s an effort created by the federal government’s Small Business Administration.

Pittsburgh Ranked Best City For Veterans

Nov 23, 2012

Pittsburgh continues its reign as the “Most Livable City” but this time for military veterans. The USAA, a company offering banking, investing and insurance to people and families that served or serve in the military, ranked Pittsburgh as the number one city for veterans based on affordability and job and education opportunities.

Scott Hollowell, a certified financial planner for the USAA, said Pittsburgh met all of the criteria to be the best.

Local Expert Predicts Ho-Hum Holiday for Retailers

Nov 23, 2012

A local marketing professor thinks national estimates for holiday sales are a bit inflated.  Duquesne University’s Audrey Guskey said while the National Retail Federation is looking for 4.1 percent growth over last year’s holiday sales, she is expecting a more modest 3.5 percent.

“With the economy being very tough we are going to see shoppers holding back a little bit and not spending as much,” said Guskey.  “So it will be a ho-hum holiday season.”

Some retailers made pre-Black Friday headlines by announcing they would begin their traditional sales Thursday evening.

Chance of Economic Growth in PA Dim

Nov 22, 2012

The state’s nonpartisan economic analysis agency says Pennsylvania’s standing for the next five years isn’t looking particularly good.

Pennsylvania’s agency for nonpartisan economic analysis sees low revenue growth and high deficits in the commonwealth’s future. 

The Independent Fiscal Office is projecting just a zero-point-eight percent growth rate in revenue for the next fiscal year.

Keeping Pittsburgh Warm and Fed on Thanksgiving

Nov 21, 2012 Of Life Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

Light of Life will serve Thanksgiving dinner at its North Side mission on E. North Avenue Thursday from 1-6p.m.  to anyone in the community who wants to have a meal and will deliver meals to the elderly and disabled at 13 high rises in Pittsburgh.

More than 70% of tri-state area citizens see Marcellus Shale drilling as a chance to give the local economy a boost, but eight in ten residents believe drilling poses at least a slight threat to the environment and public health.

Turkey Dinner for the Underprivledged

Nov 19, 2012

Unemployment Agency: $300 million Hard to Track

Nov 19, 2012

Limited employer engagement, failure to identify and share best practices, and programs operating below capacity are only a few factors causing problems for those trying to help the unemployed in southwestern Pennsylvania.  The Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (WIB) is conducting a survey of agencies that help the unemployed and will use the results to create a framework for Allegheny County.

PA Jobless Breaks Rising Streak as Payrolls Grow

Nov 17, 2012

Pennsylvania's jobless rate is down for the first time in six months as employers expanded their payrolls slightly in October.

The state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent, as both overall employment and the number of people working or seeking work grew.

The national unemployment rate is 7.9 percent.

Pennsylvania's jobless rate had begun rising again after it dropped back to 7.4 percent from the recessionary peak of 8.7 percent in 2010.

Cardboard City To Highlight Homelessness

Nov 16, 2012

While Rome wasn’t built in a day, this cardboard city will be built and taken down in one.

Beginning at 6 p.m. today and ending at 6 a.m. Saturday, Somerset County will be home to this cardboard city, which will be located at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Somerset.

Roofs Over Our Families (R.O.O.F) will host the event as part of a series of activities for National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week.

$50,000 Donated For Pittsburgh Homeless

Nov 13, 2012

Five Pittsburgh agencies are receiving $10,000 apiece to assist their homeless programs.

Citizens Bank announced the $50,000 contribution to five nonprofits:  Light of Life Ministries, Bethlehem Haven, Familylinks, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s Operation Safety Net, and Sojourner House.

Henri Moore, spokesperson for Citizens Bank, said these organizations were selected because of the variety of ways in which they help.

The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund has awarded a total of $275,000 in community development grants to 12 neighborhoods in the North Side, West End and South Hills. The overall goal is to jumpstart development in communities that have experienced a long decline, but have not gotten improvement funds and resources like other areas of the city have received.

Pennsylvanians who purchased cigarettes online may have thought they were getting a good deal with cheaper prices, but the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue says the good deals might have come at the expense of breaking the law.  The Department reported nearly 23,000 residents did not pay state taxes on cigarette packs bought online and through the mail.

A state program designed to help low-income households with their energy bills has started accepting applications.

The Pennsylvania Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides grants especially in the winter months.

Donna Morgan, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, said the department is urging people to register early. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers have filed an intent to sue the stadium authority over funding for additional seats in Heinz Field.                                                               

A stalled plan to add 3,000 end zone seats and a new scoreboard would cost up to $39 million. The Steelers want the city-county Sports Exhibition Authority to pitch in about two-thirds of that – which the team says is required under a lease agreement. SEA officials want to contribute less.

Mon Wharf Goes Under, 10th Street Bypass Stays Open

Oct 30, 2012

When it comes to flooding downtown you can consider Pittsburgh lucky when it comes to Hurricane Sandy.

While there is a flood warning in effect for the Youghiogheny River in Connellsville and for the Conemaugh River in Seward, it seems Pittsburgh has avoided major flooding from Hurricane Sandy and the many of the other predicted impacts of the storm.

Lee Hendricks, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said warnings were issued, but no rivers are expected to flood downtown.

For a 12th straight month there have been year-over-year increases in home sales for the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.  Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties all experienced dollar gains in existing home sales.

Fall Food Drive Underway

Oct 26, 2012 Drive Wrap_Charlee Song_SOC.wav

Pittsburgh’s retail gasoline prices have fallen 4.2 cents per gallon over the past week, averaging $3.80.  However, that drop is just half that of the national average, which has declines between 9-10 cents per gallon to $3.67 according to

Gregg Laskoski, a Senior Petroleum Analyst for, says that the fluctuations in gas prices are usually a matter of timing.

“We are fortunate to be at the time of year when winter blend gasoline is put back into the market… It is a cheaper gasoline to produce because it has fewer additives.”

Pennsylvania Unemployment Up Slightly in September

Oct 19, 2012

Pennsylvania’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate climbed to 8.2% in September, up one-tenth of a percentage point from the August rate of 8.1%.  Resident employment was up 23,000 to 5,974,000, and the number of unemployed residents was up 5,000 to 530,000. Pennsylvania’s labor force was 130,000 above its September 2011 level. Dine Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

Retailers and restaurateurs are hoping to draw more visitors to downtown Pittsburgh to shop and dine while helping out charity at the same time.  

“Stay Late, Shop and Dine” kicks off Thursday and will occur again in November and December as part of a trial program initiated by the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation (PDCDC).

Prices Up in Northeast, Larger Jump Nationwide

Oct 16, 2012

The cost of consumer goods and services rose 0.5 percent last month in the northeast region, which includes Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and the New England states.  That compares to a 0.6 percent jump nationally.

"[Over the last 12 months] we saw an increase in prices in the northeast region of 1.7 percent," said Bureau of Labor Statistics spokeswoman Kara Markley.  "For the U.S. as a whole, the increase was 2 percent."