Economy & Business

90.5 WESA explores the regional economy, as well as covering the issues that ordinary Pittsburghers face in their working lives.

Inspectors are slowly putting turbines that make up the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm in Blair and Cambria Counties back on line after a large section of a blade fell from one of the generators. The blade failed Friday night.

The facility is managed by Infigen Energy, which is the Dallas-based U.S subsidiary of an Australian company. Infigen Vice President of U.S. Commercial Operations David Smith said there had been some “winter weather” in the area before the blade failed but it had passed.

Gas Prices Up in Pittsburgh, Hold Steady Nationwide

Jan 8, 2013

Looking for a cheaper tank of gas? You might want to fill up in the Rockies.

Average gas prices in Pittsburgh rose two cents in the last week, while lower prices are outside the Northeast, according to

Patrick DeHann, the website’s Senior Petroleum Analyst, said the average Pittsburgh price for gas is $3.51 a gallon, compared to the national average of $3.26.

He said the increase is due to oil prices making advances and tight oil reserves. Office Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

A new state department is reporting it saved $84 million for the commonwealth since March.

Butter Sculpture Shows PA Agriculture Pride

Jan 4, 2013

Another year, another Pennsylvania Farm Show: the butter sculpture has been unveiled at the 97th annual agricultural extravaganza beginning Saturday.

The 2013 butter sculpture is an array of Pennsylvania-produced agricultural products – among them, chicken, wood, wine, and mushrooms.

Dairy Princess Maria Jo Noble of Bradford County was on-hand for the unveiling, but she didn’t get an early look at what one presenter called the “buttery masterpiece.”

Thousands of Homes in PA Without Heat

Jan 2, 2013

The Public Utility Commission (PUC) says too many homes are headed into the coldest part of the year without heat from a utility service. 
This year there appear to be about 15-hundred fewer homes without gas or electric services compared to last year’s survey.
And that count may be inflated as some homes are double-counted because they have neither gas nor electric services.

But the observed lack of utility services in nearly 16-thousand households could lead people to resort to potentially unsafe heating sources.

A public-private economic growth organization in Pittsburgh is hoping an additional $100,000 in grants to small businesses in Homewood will help jump-start the micro economy.  Urban Innovation21 has attracted national attention for its mission to ensure that the region’s rapidly growing innovation economy is inclusive and benefits all communities.

The Pittsburgh region has begun to rebound from the economic downturn but many neighborhoods have yet to see unemployment and other economic indicators recover. Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

A 12-year, multi-million dollar investment from PNC Bank and $230,000 contribution from ACTION housing will allow a a major renovation of a YMCA facility in downtown McKeesport.

Pittsburgh Hotel Occupancy Rates Highest in 20 Years

Dec 31, 2012

As 2012 comes to a close, VisitPittsburgh is reporting a record-setting year when it comes to hotel room occupancy in the region.  The rate is expected to come in at 70 percent, which is higher than it has been since the region’s tourism agency began tracking the number 20 years ago.

“It compares against the national average of 60 percent and the average of our competitor set of about 63 percent,” said VisitPittsburgh President Craig Davis.  The competitor set includes cities like Columbus, Baltimore, and Charlotte.

Retail Workers Bear Brunt Of Sluggish Holiday Sales

Dec 30, 2012

Several large retailers took a leap of faith on what they thought would be a gangbuster holiday season, and they hired more seasonal workers this year than last.

Sales during the two months before Christmas weren't all that stunning, however, and that's meant fewer opportunities for seasonal workers, and some of them worked vastly fewer hours than they expected.

Female Employment Strong, but in Few Industries

Dec 27, 2012

A Pittsburgh-based study is showing females in the region tend to pursue careers in a select number of fields, while men are represented in more industries.The analysis is part of Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board's (TRWIB)  research on various segments in the labor industry.

The data show Pittsburgh-area women, who make up nearly half the workforce in the region, are employed primarily in the healthcare, retail, education, and hospitality sectors. 

2013 Will Be Good But Not Great According to PNC

Dec 27, 2012

Pittsburgh received praise in 2012 for being among a handful of large and midsized cities that had recovered from the economic downturn, but PNC Financial Services Chief Economist Gus Faucher thinks the local economy will lag a bit in 2013.

“I think that we will see job growth of about 1 percent in 2013… But I think it’s going to be below the national average,” said Faucher.  “I would expect that the U.S. job growth is going to be closer to around 1.5 percent in 2013.”

Tax Increases v. Budget Cuts, Who Wins in PA?

Dec 26, 2012

New analysis by the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) shows that proposals to end tax breaks for high-income earners would have very little impact on taxpayers in most Pennsylvania counties.

Marcellus Shale No.1 in Production in 2012

Dec 26, 2012

This year was one of new records and new questions for the boom in Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.

Previous doubts about the size of the vast resource were mostly put to rest, as data showed that the Marcellus became the most productive natural gas field in the nation, even though well drilling slowed substantially.

Privatizing the Pennsylvania Lottery might have Governor Tom Corbett believing it will boost profits, but it could put programs that benefit senior citizens at risk.  In a new report, the left-leaning Keystone Research Center details how services for the elderly could suffer if the commonwealth rushes into a deal.

Region's Economy Looked Good 2012

Dec 26, 2012

The Pittsburgh region continued its “ahead-of-schedule recovery” in 2012 according to PNC Financial Services Senior Economist Gus Faucher. 

“Employment in Pittsburgh is now above where it was prior to the recession and it’s one of the few places in the country where that’s true,” said Faucher.  The recession officially began in December 2007.

Pittsburgh’s economy did not fall as fast or as far as other areas of the country, making it easier to rebound.  Faucher said there were a few sectors, including professional business services, which fueled the region’s growth.

These days it seems nearly everyone is trying to save money where they can. Energy provider Direct Energy says some people may not be aware that some everyday things in their homes are causing their electricity and gas bills to go up.

“An energy zombie is actually anything that mindlessly eats away at your energy bill,” said Direct Energy Spokeswoman Bethany Ruhe, “these are things you may already know about, you may not know about, but if you don’t pay attention to them – boom – you have higher electricity bills.”

Peoples Natural Gas to Purchase Equitable Gas

Dec 20, 2012 gas deal.mp3

<strong> UPDATED: 12:03 12/20/12 </strong>

Pittsburgh-based EQT Corporation announced it is selling its natural gas transmission business, Equitable Gas, to Peoples Natural Gas for $720 million. The deal also includes 200 miles of Pennsylvania pipelines and storage pools, and long-term commercial contracts for EQT to provide gas transmission and storage services to Peoples.

Gun Sales Up in PA

Dec 20, 2012

Pennsylvanians are lining up to buy firearms in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shootings, but dealers say gun owners' anxiety over a potential gun-control crackdown was driving up sales before the Sandy Hook massacre.

At Staudt's Gun Shop in Harrisburg, owner Joe Staudt says he sold out his usually large stock of semi-automatic weapons by Wednesday.

Dick's Suspends Some Gun Sales

Dec 18, 2012

Coraopolis-based Dick’s sporting goods has suspended sales of “modern sporting rifles” nationwide in the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut.   Dick's Sporting Goods also said it is removing all guns from display at its store closest to Newtown.

Police say the 20-year old gunman fatally shot his mother in their home and then killed 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. He then killed himself.

Highmark To Open A Medical Mall in Wexford

Dec 13, 2012

You can walk into any gas station or grocery store and find an array of national-brand sodas. At Village Candy in Sewickely you will find a soda case – but you won’t find Pepsi, Sprite, or Mountain Dew. The small store stocks different sodas from around the world.

 “We have bacon soda, we have something called Leninade, we have black lemonade” said owner Doug Alpern.

Craft sodas aren’t quite on the same playing field as craft beers.

Abandoned industrial sites or "brownfields" across Pennsylvania could be key to the continued development of the state's natural gas industry, according to a trade group of businesses tied to the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation.

At a conference on brownfield redevelopment in Monroeville on Tuesday, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) said brownfield sites are not so much ideal for drilling as they are for large-scale industrial operations related to natural gas, including the processing of gas byproducts into plastics and other products.

PNC Halts Evictions

Dec 10, 2012

Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services is suspending evictions this holiday season. No one will be kicked out of foreclosed homes for which PNC is the investor.

“We hope this suspension provides families who are experiencing financial hardship some stability over the holiday season,” said PNC Mortgage CEO Saiyid Naqvi. 

The company is not releasing details on how many families this could impact but PNC spokesperson Fred Solomon said it could be a substantial number given that PNC holds mortgages “from coast to coast.”

Bell Ringing Endurance Test Begins Tuesday

Dec 10, 2012

The head of the Salvation Army’s worship and service center in Latrobe is planning a bell ringing endurance test. Lt. Ray Knous will pick up the familiar red kettle and bell Tuesday morning and he wont stop his fund raising effort for the next 30 hours.

Knous will start ringing at 9:00 AM at the Latrobe Wal-Mart on Route 30. He hopes to not only raise some spare change but also to promote the mission of The Salvation Army and elevate awareness for The Red Kettle Campaign. 

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.