Economy & Business

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

Flickr user Rob Boudon

The operators of southwestern Pennsylvania’s two casinos have both been fined by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control board.

Washington Trotting Association, which operates the Meadows Casino in Washington County, was fined $40,000 after allowing two men who have placed themselves on the state’s self-exclusion list to access the casino and gamble at table games and slot machines.

Doug Harbach is communications director of the Gaming Control Board and said more than 9,700 people have placed themselves on the self-exclusion list.

Jessica Kourkounis / NewsWorks

 

Concentrated poverty is growing across the country, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.

Since the recession, more people live in neighborhoods where at least 20 percent of residents fall below the poverty line. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Minimum starting salaries for entry-level positions at UPMC will jump from $11.73 an hour to $15 by 2021, officials announced Tuesday.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania's minimum wage for tipped workers hasn't gone up in 17 years, but a group of service industry activists came together Thursday to recognize a Garfield bar for eschewing tips and paying its employees a higher base wage of its own accord.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Automation-driven manufacturing continues to lead steady economic growth in the Pittsburgh-region.  

An annual report released by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance Thursday said advanced manufacturing in the 10 counties around the city are expected to see $2.9 billion in investments from deals made last year.

RAND Corporation

Middle-skilled natural gas and energy workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are getting old.

That’s according to a Rand study, which found that one-quarter of those workers, such as welders, industrial mechanics and engineers, were nearing the age of 55 and close to retirement. The study is the first of five annual reports aiming to assess student preparation for industry jobs.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is raising the minimum wage by nearly $3 an hour, to $10.15, for state government employees and workers on jobs contracted by the state.

The Democrat signed an executive order Monday establishing the new wage minimum. It'll affect a few hundred state employees and a narrow set of state contracts.

Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled Legislature hasn't considered Wolf's request to set the minimum at over $10 for everyone. 

Larkin Page-Jacobs / WESA

In the Monongahela Valley, communities that saw their economies boom with the steel and manufacturing industry in the last century continue to feel the bust from those industries’ decline. But as Pittsburgh’s economic position strengthens, many Mon Valley towns are looking for ways to spark their own revitalization, and zoning plays a key role in that endeavor.

Etsy

  The online marketplace Etsy is inviting Pittsburgh-area manufacturers to connect with its designers to help them produce on a larger scale.

Local manufacturers and designers – whether already affiliated with Etsy or new to the service – are welcome to attend Etsy Manufacturing Day, a free event from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. March 8 at the Energy Innovation Center at 1435 Bedford Ave. in the Hill District.

The Challenges Of Preserving Historic Hotels Of Pennsylvania

Feb 28, 2016
Hotel Bethlehem

 

The hotel industry is enjoying a boom time in Philadelphia.

New accommodations are under construction in what will be the city's tallest office tower, the Comcast Innovation & Technology Center; in what will be the state's highest residential building, the SLS building; and at other sites on the Penn and Drexel campuses, in Center City, and in Fishtown.

Some of the new hotels will adapt historic spaces, including the Family Court, Liberty Title and Trust, and the Willis Hale Building at Juniper and Chestnut Streets.

Radioactive Scrap Metal Found In Beaver County Poses No Risk

Feb 26, 2016
Jon Dawson / Flickr

A Beaver County scrap metal facility has been temporarily shut down while the state investigates how radioactive materials there were put through a metal shredder.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection began its investigation of PSC Metals late Tuesday. Officials were alerted after metal that had been processed at the Beaver Falls facility and then shipped to three facilities in Ohio tripped a radioactivity monitor at one of the sites in Ohio.

Diana Parkhouse / Flickr

Southwestern Pennsylvania saw more real estate listings in sales at the opening of 2016 than it did the year prior.

According to a report by real estate agency West Penn Multi-List, 191 more homes were put up for sale in January 2016 (2,511) than in January 2015. It also saw 71 more homes sold this January (1,432) than a year earlier (1,361).

The report includes statistics from Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Clarion, Crawford, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset, Venango, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Mora McLaughlin / 90.5 WESA

More than a dozen vendors have scrambled to find new locations, as the Pittsburgh Public Market prepares to shut its doors at the end of the month. 

The market opened in its current Penn Avenue location in the Strip District in 2013, when it moved from the Produce Terminal on Smallman Street. 

Pittsburgh Public Market General Manager Rich Westerfield said the owner of the building decided not to renew the market's lease.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania is the first branch in the nation to take on a secondary venture with the goal of raising more capital.

Governor Tom Wolf / flickr

Pennsylvania unions bucked a national trend of stagnant growth this year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Heinz / YouTube

Scores of hot dog costume-wearing dachshunds run through a grassy field while Harry Nilsson’s 1972 ballad “Without You” plays in the background.

What can’t they live without?

Heinz Ketchup of course. And mustard. And barbeque sauce, represented here by humans in condiment costumes. The dogs leap upon them, licking their faces while the announcer says, “It’s hard to resist great taste. Meet the Ketchups.”

Kraft Heinz has been trying to build buzz around their family of condiments with the hashtag #MeetTheKetchups.

AP

 

United States Steel Corp. on Tuesday reported a fourth-quarter loss of $999 million, reversing a profit a year ago, as revenue plunged 37 percent and the company blamed cheap subsidized imports for hurting the price of flat-rolled steel.

Pittsburgh-based law firm Reed Smith has cut 45 attorneys and an unspecified number of support staff employees.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the cuts are part of a restructuring of the firm's offices in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

The firm isn't saying where the layoffs have occurred.

The firm's Pittsburgh headquarters employs 250 of the 1,650 attorneys the firm employs worldwide.

Keith Srakocic / AP

During his final state of the union address, Pres. Barack Obama once again called for support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. But Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who usually lines up politically with the president, said it is a bad idea.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf reiterated his desire for business-friendly legislation at a walkthrough of AlphaLab Gear in East Liberty on Thursday as part of his "Jobs that Pay" tour.

Saving Midcentury Modernist Buildings In PA Cities

Jan 4, 2016
Steve Bootay

 

At this time of year, everyone's thinking, "Out with the old, in with the new." Yet there's a growing appreciation for the not-so-old, and even a taste for what came before — specifically, the Cold War cool fashions and interior furnishings of the "Mad Men" era.

Esteem for the style of Midcentury Modern — the period between the 1930s and 1970s — is spreading to its architecture, an expression of postwar optimism and Space Age imagination, and its leading designers, many of whom were trained or practiced their art in Pennsylvania.

Linus Bohman / flickr

The U.S. economy is finishing 2015 on an upswing, according to Pittsburgh-based PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman and he thinks that will continue into 2016.

“Wages had been stalled at around 2- to 2.25-percent [growth]. We saw a little bit of an uptick in the later half of this year, and we think we will see a little faster, bigger gain in 2016,” Hoffman said.  “Maybe where wages rise … closer to 3 percent.”

401(K) 2012 / flickr

After a rough start in 2015, the nation's economy is set to end the year in a fairly strong position, PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman said.

“But it clearly was a mixed picture,” Hoffman said. “If you were in manufacturing, the global economy grew more slowly, the dollar was strong. If you were in energy, it was a bad year for you."

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County is looking for development options for more than 150 acres of brownfield space surrounding a former steel yard in Rankin.

Work the Angles / Flickr

When North Carolina discontinued its film tax credit at the start of 2015, the television series Banshee - set in fictional Banshee, Pa. - moved production from that state to western Pennsylvania for its final season.

Save Money / flickr

The Federal Reserve is poised to do something it has not done in more than a decade — raise interest rates.

Despite the occasion, Aaron Leaman, chief investment officer with Pittsburgh-based Signature Financial Planning, is not recommending any rash changes. 

“This is not something that is a make or break thing for any average investor,” said Leaman. “If you are a long-term investor, looking to secure your retirement or fund your child’s education… one decision made by the fed on one day in December is not going to make or break your portfolio in either direction.”

Ron Reiring / Flickr

The Pittsburgh region continues to experience fewer bankruptcies than its benchmark peers – an example of its economic stability, according to Pittsburgh Today.

According to a new report released by the organization, Pittsburgh had 1,845 bankruptcies in the 2015 third quarter, which is lower than almost all 15 benchmark regions, with the exception of Charlotte, N.C. and nearly half of the benchmark average of 3,419.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council’s Wage Review Committee, spearheaded by Councilman Ricky Burgess, is recommending some of the region’s biggest employers increase their minimum wage.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Carnegie Mellon University student Cora Wang waited for a currywurst outside a gray office building just off of Second Avenue in South Oakland.

It was her first time there for class, and she said she was pleasantly surprised to see a mobile food cart on the premises.

“Because there’s nothing here,” she said with a laugh.

Meanwhile, Sandra Friedel cooked up sausages and ground meat patties on the small flat top grill, then topped them with veggies and homemade sauces, while her husband Dustin took orders.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

The Commonwealth's once-mighty manufacturing sector has been ailing for decades. But some industry leaders think the key to a massive comeback may be buried deep in the Marcellus shale.

"This new petrochemical-based manufacturing industry, which is waiting to be born, will be bigger than the economic impact of the drilling," said David Taylor, president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association. Between ethane-derived plastics and recent advances in additive manufacturing technology, Taylor sees potential for a manufacturing revival.

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