Pennsylvania small business owners are looking at the next six months with some optimism, according to the most recent findings from PNC’s biannual Economic Outlook Survey.

The survey found the percentage of small business owners in the state expecting to raise employee wages increased from 29 to 45 percent.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Average annual pay increased in the Pittsburgh region from 2013 to 2014, but not as much as in several other cities, including Denver, Cincinnati or Detroit, according to a report released by Pittsburgh Today.

Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today, an organization which measures progress in areas such as education, sustainability and economy, said local average annual pay rose by 2.7 percent.

Index Ranks PA Counties' Economic Competitiveness

Apr 18, 2015

A Pittsburgh-based consulting firm released on April 15 an index of Pennsylvania county competitiveness rankings that attempts to determine which counties are poised for future economic growth.

Pennsylvania dropped eight places in the last year to become one of 10 states with the worst economic outlooks, according to the annual “Rich States, Poor States” report published by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Based on 15 criteria including individual and corporate tax rates, the eighth annual report ranked Pennsylvania 41 out of 50 states in terms of economic outlook and competitiveness.

Small- and mid-sized business owners nationwide are optimistic about their sales and profits for the coming months, according to the latest PNC Economic Survey Outlook.

The survey found that 83 percent of the business owners surveyed are optimistic about their company’s prospects and 70 percent are optimistic about the overall U.S. economy.

In Pennsylvania, things are a little different. While optimistic, small business owners are just a bit more cautious.

Devon Christopher Adams / Flickr

Remembering Mr. Spock (41:00)

Actor Leonard Nimoy, best known as Mr. Spock on the classic television series Star Trek died last week at the age of 83. He made his Shakespearean acting debut at the Pittsburgh Public Theater in 1975. Pop culture contributor Joe Wos explains more about Nimoy's connection to the Steel City.   

What Do Unemployment Numbers Really Mean?

Feb 17, 2015
Michael Carian / Flickr

Earlier this month the unemployment numbers were announced. Over two-hundred thousand jobs were added to the economy. While this is good news why do so many people feel we’re still in the recession? Robert Morris University Economics Professor Brian O’Roark explains how unemployment is assessed and who counts as “unemployed.”

Unemployment assessments are done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. O’Roark says that the official ranks of the unemployed do not simply include people who don’t have jobs.

Owners of small- and medium-sized businesses gathered Wednesday to talk about how the Pittsburgh area economy could change in 2015 and not everyone is optimistic.

The University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence hosted the event that included: Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, PNC Chairman Bill Demchack, and PNC Vice President Augustine Faucher. Overall they predicted that the local economy will fall behind the national economy in 2015.

The Associated Press

While Pittsburgh’s economy has recovered from the recession that began in 2008, growth is slowing, and policy makers need to address that reality.

That’s according to a new report from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. The fourth edition of the Global MetroMonitor examined economic performance in the 300 largest metropolitan economies in the world. Pittsburgh ranked at #253 in 2014. That’s down from a ranking of #192 between 2009 and 2014.

When Pennsylvania’s junior senator sits at his desk for the State of the Union Address tonight, he will have a specific list of items he would like President Obama to address.

The second-term senator would like to see the president focus on the economy and national security, not broadband speeds and net neutrality as he has already previewed in stops around the country this month.

“The fact is, the average working family in Pennsylvania is not getting ahead,” he said. “That’s the reality. We need a stronger economy and we change that reality.”

The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago, an event which marked the symbolic ending to the Cold War. But you wouldn’t know it looking at the relationship between the United States and Cuba, who continued the mid-20th century conflict well into the 21st.

That was until President Obama announced on December 17 that the United States was taking steps to change its relationship with Cuba and ease restrictions on travel and commerce.

These steps will obviously have an enormous effect on the island nation, about 90 miles off the coast of the U.S. But it will also have an effect on many parts of the United States, including Pittsburgh.

Kenya Dworkin y Mendez, the Cuban-born associate professor of Hispanic Studies at Carnegie Mellon University and Scott Morgenstern, the associate professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh discussed the matter on today’s Essential Pittsburgh.

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh continues to have lower levels of unemployment than most similarly sized cities such as: Indianapolis, Kansas City and Cleveland. 

The Steel City weathered the economic crisis of 2008 better than just about any of these cities and its low unemployment and housing prices have drawn residents back to the area. But will this trend continue?

Mark Price, a labor economist with the left-leaning Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, discusses Pittsburgh’s prospects going forward. In particular, he explains that economic recovery has not yet affected those in blue collar jobs. 

“Two sectors that are going to be important for Pittsburgh, two sectors that have not performed well at all for obvious reasons would be manufacturing and construction… that reflects the deepness and the nature of the recession.”

Overall, however, Price does feel good about the economy going forward.

What is the Future of the Shopping Mall?

Nov 26, 2014
John Good / Flickr

We’re entering the holiday shopping season which is make or break time for many retailers. 

It wasn’t too long ago shopping malls were the center of shopping activity.

However, in recent years malls have been in decline. Here to look at the change in our shopping habits and address the future of malls is Brian O’Roark, a professor of economics at Robert Morris University.

Coping and Investing in a Volatile Market

Oct 21, 2014
Perpetual Tourist / Flickr

The American economy has experienced gradual improvements in the 6 years since the 2008 market collapse. But for many investors, memories of those economic losses are still raw.

Throughout the last month, the volatility of global politics has affected the stock market with disconcerting spikes and dips.

Financial planners such as Paul Brahim, Chairman and CEO of BPU investment firm and a member of the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Financial Planning Association, are faced with concerned investors who want to know what they’re in for. He joins us to talk about the causes of the latest market volatility and how best to react.

The 10 colleges and universities that make up the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE) represented approximately 32 percent of the city’s gross domestic product in FY 2012-13, according to a report released by PCHE.

“We have contributed close to $9 billion into the regional economy and we’re supporting more than 70,000 jobs in the City of Pittsburgh, which is one out of every four jobs,” said Paul Hennigan, PCHE chair and president of Point Park University.

Shareable and Sustainable Cities for Everyone

Oct 8, 2014
NATCO / Flickr

When he lectures throughout the country, Dr. Antwi Akom focuses on two main questions: How do we create more just, sustainable and smarter cities? And how do we create more democratic models of civic and community engagement?

If those don’t sound like typical talking points on sustainability, that’s because Akom, with an impressive list of environmental, educational and sociological credentials, has a very broad view of sustainability.

As a guest of the Green Building Alliance’s Inspire Speakers Series, Akom will talk about how he sees too many communities today with limited access to resources and wonders what the cities of our future would look like if we designed them with everyone in mind.

We’ll also talk about what this can all mean for our town, with Grant Ervin, the first Sustainability Manager for the City of Pittsburgh

This Inspire Speakers Series event takes place at the Hill House in the Hill District, on Thursday October 9, 2014 from 5pm to 8pm, registration is required.

Watch one of Antwi Akom's presentations on Shareable Cities, from the 2013 EcoDistricts Summit:

Pittsburgh: A Top Real Estate Buyer’s Market

Sep 30, 2014
erjkprunczyk / Flickr

According to the Real Estate Firm Zillow, Pittsburgh is one of the nation’s top 10 buyer’s markets. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at the business of residential real estate.

Discussing the State of Working Pennsylvania

Sep 3, 2014

Good news for the commonwealth: recent statistics have shown an increase in job growth and a decrease in the unemployment rate. However, according to a recent report from the Keystone Research Center, Pennsylvania falls below other states when it comes to job growth.

Economic Benefits Of Renewable Energy?

Jul 30, 2014
Roland Peschetz / Flickr

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is the cornerstone of President Obama’s climate action plan. Four hearings are being held in four different cities: Atlanta, Washington D.C., Denver, and Pittsburgh.

During these hearing, environmental, business, and health experts will share their opinions on whether the gains that the plan gives the country are greater than the sacrifices that will need to be made.

To examine this issue from an economic standpoint we had Communitopia president Joylette Portlock and Blue/Green Alliance executive director Kim Glass stop by our South Side studio.

Portluck said that even without the new regulations, the coal industry has been shrinking its workforce.

Is Social Media Hindering the Business of Golf?

Jun 3, 2014
Easy Being Greener / Blogger

Golf has been described as a “good walk spoiled.”

The rise of Tiger Woods brought an increased interest in the sport along with a new generation of fans in the early part of the century. However, recent stories from CNN and Bloomberg news report a declining interest in the game.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris, director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, looks at the business of golf.

According to the National Golf Foundation, more than 400,000 players, mostly men, left the sport last year. This may be attributed to the wicked winter weather on the east coast delaying the start of the game.

Golf club and gear sales also declined due to the new technology being phased into the sport, which older players may be slower to pick up. But Harris believes that another form of technology has had a negative effect on the sport as well. 

Pennsylvania’s economic outlook is looking brighter - but only slightly.

That’s according to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which ranked Pennsylvania 33rd in its 2014 competitiveness report.

The report looks at state economic policies and draws conclusions from research about which states will achieve greater prosperity and which will have a mediocre economy.

Jonathan Williams, Director of Tax and Fiscal Policy at ALEC, said they try to highlight states that have policies enacted that really make a difference.

Does Pittsburgh Meet the Needs of the Millennial Generation?

Feb 28, 2014
6SN7 / Flickr

Christopher Briem, a regional economist at the University Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh and Sasha King, social scientist and independent career consultant, provide a snapshot of the city’s young people, from their economic situations to their personal values.

They say skilled young professionals seek out Pittsburgh for its affordable living, commitment to innovation and opportunities for upward mobility. Statistics mirror the growing notion that the Steel City has become a hub for cultural diversity and technological creativity, partly based on its ability to attract and retain Millennials.

This demographic of Pittsburghers range from 18 to 34 years old, and are characterized by their technological skill, their dedication to equality issues, and oftentimes their mounting student debt and unemployment.

It’s no secret that Pittsburgh’s made a comeback.

What was once one of the most polluted and economically strained cities in the country, now ranks 4th in number of green buildings and 5th in average annual pay compared to the 14 other benchmark regions, according to the analytical organization Pittsburgh Today.

Pennsylvania's rural areas are facing hard economic times, and a state lawmaker believes that tourism could be the answer.

“Pennsylvania is one of the largest rural states in the union, and when you look statistically it is our rural Pennsylvania that has the highest unemployment rates and I think it needs to be addressed,” said state Sen. John Wozniak (D-Cambria).

Lim CK / Flickr

China has one of the world's fastest growing economies. But, how do changes in China affect people in Pittsburgh?

PNC Vice President and Senior International Economist Bill Adams is co-author of the new book, In Line Behind A Billion People: How Scarcity Will Define China’s Ascent in the Next Decade.

Looking at the state of its current economy, and projections for the future, Adams is concerned about what happens if China runs out of the things it needs to keep growing.


While many Americans quickly moved on from October’s partial government shutdown and near-default, it seems the nation’s high net worth individuals are less ready to forget about it.

A new survey by the University of Pittsburgh and PittsburghTODAY found that 65 percent of the region’s citizens view air quality as either a minor problem, or not a problem at all.

This is despite continually low air quality rankings by the American Lung Association.

Doug Heuck, Director of PittsburghTODAY, said many people mistakenly think that because they can’t see the air pollution, it’s not there.

Increase In Pennsylvania’s Poverty Rate

Sep 23, 2013
marsmettnn / flickr

Despite being below the national average of 15 percent, the Census Bureau recently reported a slight increase in Pennsylvania’s Poverty rate. Up from 13.8 in 2012 to 13.9 in 2013, almost 1.8 million Pennsylvanians are considered to be living below the poverty line.

A tenth of a percent may seem paltry but a retrospective look at the past twelve years determines a full 3 percent increase. Associated Press reporter Kevin Begos believes that the economy just isn’t growing the way people hoped it would. There simply aren’t enough jobs for the hundreds of thousands of people looking to support themselves and their families.

The hot July temperatures this year reflected the sizzling housing market in Western Pennsylvania — with increases across the board.

According to the West Penn Multi-List Inc. residential real estate report, the number of homes under agreement during July this year was 4,104 compared to 3,392 homes in July 2012, an increase of over 20 percent.

George Hackett, President of the West Penn Multi-List Inc., said this is partly because of the improved economy.

Flickr user Jason Pratt

A new study shows Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh specifically, might be the model for the American dream.

A team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of California-Berkley found that Pennsylvania has considerably more upward mobility than other parts of the country.

According to Stephen Herzenberg, economist and executive director of the liberal-leaning Keystone Research Center, upward mobility is the ability of someone in the economic lower class to move up the economic scale.

Herzenberg said upward mobility is at the heart of the American dream.