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.  

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.