Economy

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

"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.”

Pittsburgh Job Growth Slowed Last Year, Group Says

Apr 2, 2013

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.

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.  

PA Unemployment Numbers Tell Only Half the Story

Mar 12, 2013

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.

Sequestration Deadline

Feb 28, 2013
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.

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