Economy

Essential Pittsburgh
7:29 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Pittsburgh Maintains Low Unemployment, But Blue Collar Jobs Still Struggle

Construction workers standing below the PNC Tower being erected in Downtown Pittsburgh
Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:50 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

What is the Future of the Shopping Mall?

Beyond internet shopping, there are many reasons why American shopping malls have a growing number of empty storefronts. Our economics contributor talks about the future of the mall.
Credit 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.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:24 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Coping and Investing in a Volatile Market

Credit 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.

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Education
4:21 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Report: Colleges and Universities in Pittsburgh a Major Economic Driver

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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:26 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Shareable and Sustainable Cities for Everyone

Better busway, bike and rail transit for all neighborhoods is just part of what can make a city sustainable.
Credit 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:

Essential Pittsburgh
5:38 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Pittsburgh: A Top Real Estate Buyer’s Market

Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:36 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Discussing the State of Working Pennsylvania

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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:47 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Economic Benefits Of Renewable Energy?

Credit 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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:04 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Is Social Media Hindering the Business of Golf?

Credit 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. 

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Economy & Business
3:30 am
Mon April 28, 2014

PA Ranks 33rd in Economic Outlook Competitiveness

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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:25 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Does Pittsburgh Meet the Needs of the Millennial Generation?

Credit 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.

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Community
3:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Can The Steel City Be Sustainable?

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.

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Economic Development
3:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Tourism Could Boost Rural Economies, State Lawmaker Says

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).

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:55 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

In Line Behind A Billion People: What Scarcity in China Means For Pittsburgh

Where can Pittsburgh fit in when it comes to the world's fastest growing economy?
Credit 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.

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Economy & Business
2:24 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

The Rich Trust Wall Street More Than Capitol Hill

The government shutdown and flirting with the debt ceiling turned off many high net worth individuals.
Credit PNC

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.

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Environment & Energy
12:05 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Survey Says: Most Pittsburghers Favor Environment over Economy

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.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:47 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Increase In Pennsylvania’s Poverty Rate

While PA's poverty level has increased slightly, Pittsburgh is holding steady.
Credit 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.

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Economy
11:51 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Western Pennsylvania Housing Market Heats Up

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.

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Economy & Business
7:20 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Study Shows Pittsburgh Has Strong Upward Mobility

A recent study has found that Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh in particular, show considerably more upward mobility compared to other regions in the nation. Researchers based that on four variables: the size of the middle class, the quality of the K-12 schools, strong families and civic engagement.
Credit 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.

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Business
1:54 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Back-To-School Sales Expected to Drop, But Not So Much in Pittsburgh

Ready … set … shop!

While it doesn’t have have an official kickoff day like the Christmas shopping season does with Black Friday, retailers are trying to get parents and students to spend their back-to-school money a little earlier this year.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:55 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Sustainable Jobs For Pennsylvania in the 21st Century

From Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs: What's Pennsylvania's industry future?
David Bennett Flickr

Before exploring the issue of creating green jobs in the 21st century economy, Essential Pittsburgh took the time to air some answers to environmental questions from listeners.

In response to a question on why the energy conversation won't embrace the possibility of more drastic advances in alternative energy such as nuclear fusion, James Clad, a consultant and distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University acknowledged that the energy conversation had been turned into a one note discussion on fossil fuels. 

"The energy world is defined by oil and gas and everything else is just an add on." said Clad

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:54 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

The Business of Manufacturing with Rebecca Harris

Business Contributor Rebecca Harris is the Director of the Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship
Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

According to business contributor Rebecca Harris, rumors of American manufacturing's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

The manufacturing industry in the United States is growing in a very real way, contributing roughly $1.74 trillion to the US GDP on an annual basis for the past several years and continuing to grow. According to Harris, many large name American companies, including GE and Whirlpool, are actually bringing parts of their manufacturing operations back to the US, thereby adding even more manufacturing jobs and openings. Over the past 3 years, manufacturers have added roughly 500,000 new jobs to their operations.

Harris adds that the manufacturing sector isn't close to slowing down.  There are still vacant jobs to fill. The only problem is finding well-trained laborers to fill it.

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Economy & Business
5:06 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Pittsburgh Weekly Wages Up, But Increase Could Be Short-Lived

Pittsburghers' average weekly wages are up, but slow job growth this year could make it short-lived.

According to Pittsburgh Today, a regional analytical organization, the average weekly wages in Pittsburgh increased by 3.5 percent in 2012, the second largest increase year-over-year behind Cincinnati, which had a 3.8 percent increase.

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Economy & Business
2:38 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

U.S. Senator Casey Urges Passage of River Act

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) speaks on the deck of a Gateway Clipper ship in Station Square.
Credit Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

Western Pennsylvania's canal system of locks and dams is an economic generator in the region and beyond, and on Friday, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) emphasized that it is a resource worth funding.

On the deck of a Gateway Clipper ship at Pittsburgh's Station Square, Casey congratulated river transportation officials for helping push for the River Act, which passed the Senate as part of the Water Resources Development Act. But he also reminded the crowd that there is still a ways to go.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Exploiting Extraterrestrial Resources: Economic and Legal Issues in Outer Space

Point Park Professor Dimitris Kraniou pushes his economics students to think on the macro-level with his extraterrestrial economics course
Credit Point Park

With the steady depletion of earth’s natural resources and accelerating population growth, more and more people are giving serious thought to the idea of outer space resource exploration.

But how should the process be regulated? Professor Dimitris Kraniou, Point Park University Chair of the Department of Global Management and Organization, has been teaching this subject matter for years in his special project classes for graduate students. He turns real life global problems into outer space "what if" scenarios for students to solve.

Housing Market
3:30 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Southwestern PA Housing Market Best It’s Been in 4 Years

"For sale" signs are appearing and disappearing quickly from front lawns all over southwestern Pennsylvania.

That’s according to the March real estate report from West Penn Multi List Inc., which found it’s good to be a seller.

“It’s phenomenal,” said West Penn chief operating officer Barbara Kohl. “The situation right now is there just is not enough houses to sell. There are a tremendous amount of buyers out there, so what happened here locally is it went from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market very quickly.”

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Pittsburgh
4:59 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Pittsburgh Job Growth Slowed Last Year, Group Says

Hospitals, financial services and the Marcellus Shale industry in southwestern Pennsylvania are expanding employment, but the rest of the area’s economy has slowed hiring, according to Pittsburgh TODAY.

Douglas Heuck, Program Director for Pittsburgh TODAY, a nonprofit that provides statistical information on Pittsburgh life, said Pittsburgh’s job growth from February 2012 to February 2013 was 0.18 percent.

He said Pittsburgh was once third in job growth in their rankings of 15 cities, but last year’s numbers dropped it to last.

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Economy
4:02 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Report: Pittsburgh Region Sustained Five Consecutive Years of Economic Growth

Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, outlines the region's economic successes of 2012.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh region was one of three U.S. metro areas to be deemed fully recovered from the 2008 recession by the Brookings Institution in late 2012.

A report released Tuesday shows the region has sustained five years of economic growth, including 2012, which was a benchmark year for employment.  

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Economy & Business
12:40 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

PA Unemployment Numbers Tell Only Half the Story

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate in January rose to 8.2 percent and is now at its highest point since October 2010 and Democrats in the state are hoping to use the numbers as political fodder.

The numbers were released Friday afternoon. By Monday morning, Senate Democrats were pointing to the report as all the proof they need to show the Corbett administration’s policies have failed to spur investment and, in turn, job creation.

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:23 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Sequestration Deadline

Economic Contributor Jay Sukits talks about how the sequester stands to impact our lives
Credit Katz School of Business / University of Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey has a plan for heading off the sequester and 85 billion dollars in federal cuts scheduled to go into effect Friday at midnight.  Jay Sukits, Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh addresses Senator Casey's plan and the sequester threat from an economist's point of view.