Economy & Business

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

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania saw its unemployment rate drop for the second straight month, hitting a new post-recession low, as payrolls expanded slightly.

The state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday that Pennsylvania's unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.3 percent in June. The national rate is 4 percent.

A survey of households found Pennsylvania's civilian labor force contracted again, this time by 1,000, falling further below its 2012 record high as employment rose and unemployment shrank.

Online Gambling Petitions Are Rolling In Ahead Of Pennsylvania's Deadline

Jul 16, 2018
Wayne Parry / AP

Applications to operate casino-style gambling online in Pennsylvania were rolling in ahead of Monday's deadline for the state's casino owners to get a license at a discounted rate of $10 million.

The deadline arrived as Pennsylvania is in the midst of an aggressive gambling expansion as the state scrounges for cash to shore up its treasury.

Under a law signed late last year by Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize online casino gambling, joining Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

Governor Tom Wolf / flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf and Treasurer Joe Torsella say Pennsylvania state government's improving fiscal stability means it shouldn't need a short-term liquidity loan in the just-started fiscal year.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh is shutting down three branches at the end of August as part of its efforts to get out of debt. The affected locations are in Penn Hills, Wilmerding and Coraopolis.

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is getting its second medical marijuana dispensary after Cresco Yeltrah+, or CY+, opened its Strip District location Tuesday.

Amy Sisk / WESA

For Connie Ferris, acting as DJ at Benner’s Meadow Run campground is part of the allure of camping.

 

The music, along with shared meals and campfires amid a string of RVs parked here for the summer, helps make the place feel like a community.

 

Ferris spends half the week at the Fayette County campground. In the evenings, she connects her phone to a portable speaker and takes song requests.

 

Wolf Proposes Looser Licensing Rules For Barbers, Other Jobs

Jun 14, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's governor wants to stop mandating professional licenses for 13 types of jobs, calling current regulations a barrier to employment.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf plans to release a study on Thursday of the state's professional licensure rules and proposals to improve them.

More than a million state residents currently hold professional licenses.

The report from Wolf's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs says some licenses are valuable in setting standards and protecting consumers.

Dan Moore, a 58-year-old steel mill worker, gives the president an A+ on everything from tax cuts to foreign policy, but he is not so sure about tariffs.

"We need tariffs, but when it starts to impact the company where you work ... you're thinking, well wait a minute, time out!" he said.

Moore is worried the tariffs might cost him his job. The mill where he works, NLMK Pennsylvania, in the town of Farrell, not far from the border with Ohio, employs 750 workers and is a subsidiary of Novolipetsk Steel, or NLMK, Russia's top steelmaker.

Nam Y. Huh / AP

Dick's Sporting Goods' fiscal first-quarter performance topped Wall Street's view, bolstered partly by strong online sales. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to states carrying the highest amount of credit card debt with $33.2 billion.

Jenn Durfey / Flickr

After a long, and at times seemingly endless winter, western Pennsylvanians are ready to travel for Memorial Day. 

Firms Sued Over Incinerator Deal That Left Harrisburg Broke

May 23, 2018
Carolyn Kaster / AP

A lawsuit filed Monday blames lawyers, engineers and financial experts for a Harrisburg trash incinerator project that nearly bankrupted the city, calling it "the worst municipal financial disaster" in Pennsylvania history.

The state and the city on Monday sued four law firms, two financial entities and an engineering company for their roles in the project that drove the city into state receivership and triggered a budget crisis that is still playing out.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh-area housing market is booming, according to new data from West Penn Multi-List, which collects real estate data from 17 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Wikipedia Commons

Allegheny Health Network has announced it will raise its minimum wage for full-time employees to $15 an hour by 2021. The move comes two years after UPMC said it would do the same.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania's payrolls crept to another record high in April, while the unemployment rate inched down to a post-recession low as the labor pool shrank.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Steamfitters Local 449 is revving up recruitment for its apprenticeship program this summer, citing an upcoming need for construction workers. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

City officials are acknowledging that representatives from Amazon visited the Steel City last month. Calling it a "real estate" visit, Mayor Bill Peduto said their one-day stopover included lots of questions about the amenities, housing and transit required for an estimated 50,000 employees.

Heather Ainsworth / AP

Pennsylvania regulators aren't predicting when sports betting will begin legally in the state now that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that bars gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The ornate, four-story building at 413-415 Wood Street is abuzz with the sounds of construction. Landmarks Development Corporation is restoring the space to make way for fashion boutique Peter Lawrence this summer.

Kailey Love / 90.5 WESA

Greater Pittsburgh was host to nearly 12 million overnight trips in 2016, according to new data from the Pennsylvania State Tourism Office

Small Businesses Grapple With Maze Of Conflicting Pot Laws

May 3, 2018
Ted S. Warren / AP

A low unemployment rate and the spreading legalization of marijuana have led many businesses to rethink their drug testing policies for the first time in decades.

Charles Krupa / AP

Six online fantasy sports game operators are now offering wagers that are regulated and taxed by Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said Tuesday that regulation began over the weekend of games operated by six companies that filed applications to the agency.

The gaming board was charged with regulating the growing business in last October's law that also expanded casino-style gambling in Pennsylvania.

Loren Elliot / AP

In less than a month, the U.S. Department of Commerce will make a decision on whether or not they will be excluding certain American companies from the effects of the Trump administration’s proposed tariffs. Some Pittsburgh-area businesses are hoping to get on the list.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Stakeholders heralded transparency, sustainable development and potential plans for rapid city growth at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center this week as part of the 4th annual P4 Conference. The event came as city leaders continue to balk at sharing their Amazon HQ2 proposal.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration went to court this week to block requests for records of financial incentives it offered Amazon to build its second headquarters in Pennsylvania.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Sales associate Dale Benner adjusted his stance, peering through two layers of reinforced glass. Less than 10 yards ahead, a soft “pop pop” barely registered over the low hum of classic rock piped overhead.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Amazon, one of the world’s most successful businesses, started out as an online bookseller. But an effort to lure its second corporate headquarters--and 50,000 jobs--to Pittsburgh has not exactly been an open book.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Trump appointee Linda McMahon made stops in the midstate Tuesday to promote efforts the Small Business Administration is making to pump money to business owners.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Forty-five percent of the owners of Pennsylvania's small to mid-sized businesses are optimistic about the future of their companies, according to the latest PNC Economic Outlook survey. 

Rob Long / Provided Photo

A Pittsburgh nonprofit known for its small grants to grassroots organizations will shut its doors in June.

The Sprout Fund will spend its last several weeks as an organization awarding small “legacy” grants similar to the small seed grants that were the basis of the organization.

The Sprout Fund found success by giving modest monetary awards to early-stage community projects. The idea was to close the gap between the grassroots idea and the complicated process of landing a grant from a large foundation.

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