Mapping The Data: Minimum Wage Of $10.10/Hour Would Benefit 21% Of Workers In Lancaster County

Editor’s note:  This is a more in-depth article than the one below with some excellent graphs and charts showing all 67 counties in Pennsylvania and what the impact of raising the minimum wage would mean by county.  Well worth the read!

About one in five workers in Lancaster County would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a new study shows.

That 21 percent amounts to 49,099 workers here, according to the Keystone Research Center study.

The research is being cited by a labor and community coalition, Raise the Wage PA, which will hold a rally in Penn Square at noon Thursday.

Lancaster County rates somewhat worse than the statewide figure of 19 percent and the urban-area figure of 18 percent, says the study.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/business/local_business/mapping-the-data-minimum-wage-of-hour-would-benefit-of/article_9ae665b4-d63a-11e3-88f4-0017a43b2370.html

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US Economy Grew At 3.2 Percent Rate In Q4

Seal of the United States Department of Commerce

Seal of the United States Department of Commerce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter on the strength of the strongest consumer spending in three years, an encouraging sign for 2014.

The fourth-quarter increase followed a 4.1 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter, when the economy benefited from a buildup in business stockpiles.

For 2013 as a whole, the economy grew a tepid 1.9 percent, weaker than the 2.8 percent increase in 2012, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Growth was held back last year by higher taxes and federal spending cuts.

With that drag diminished, many economists think growth could top 3 percent in 2014. That would be the best performance since the recession ended in mid-2009.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140130_ap_ef9a502bf87446ee8b002fe557b26ec6.html#wThbbpJD49oI0jQw.99

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U.S. Economy Grows At Surprising 2.8 Percent Rate

Seal of the United States Department of Commerce

Seal of the United States Department of Commerce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.8 percent annual rate from July through September, a surprising acceleration ahead of the 16-day partial government shutdown. But much of the strength came from a buildup in company stockpiling.

Home construction also rose, and state and local governments spent at their fastest pace in four years. But businesses spent less on equipment, federal spending fell and consumers spent at a slower pace. All are cautionary signs for the final three months of the year.

Overall, growth increased in the third quarter from a 2.5 percent annual rate in the April-June period to the fastest pace in a year, the Commerce Department said today.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=518462

U.S. Consumer Sentiment Improves In February On Job Outlook

NEW YORK, Feb 15 (Reuters) – U.S. consumer sentiment improved in February, buoyed by signs of increased hiring, though worries heightened about a decline in future income, a survey released on Friday.

The Thompson Reuters/University of Michigan’s preliminary reading on the overall index of consumer sentiment rose to 76.3 from 73.8 in January, topping economists’ forecasts of 74.8.

The barometer of current economic conditions rose to 88 from 85, while the gauge of consumer expectations rose to 68.7 from 66.6.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-us-economy-20130215,0,6427243.story

House, Senate Approve ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Bill

Official portrait of United States House Speak...

Official portrait of United States House Speaker (R-Ohio). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Well it’s about damn time!

WASHINGTON — Congress’ excruciating, extraordinary New Year’s Day approval of a compromise averting a prolonged tumble off the fiscal cliff hands President Barack Obama most of the tax boosts on the rich that he campaigned on.  It also prevents House Republicans from facing blame for blocking tax cuts for most American households, though most GOP lawmakers parted ways with Speaker John Boehner and opposed the measure.

Passage also lays the groundwork for future battles between the two sides over federal spending and debt.

Capping a holiday season political spectacle that featured enough high and low notes for a Broadway musical, the GOP-run House voted final approval for the measure by 257-167 late Tuesday.  That came after the Democratic-led Senate used a wee-hours 89-8 roll call to assent to the bill, belying the partisan brinkmanship that colored much of the path to the final deal.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=440254

Gas Prices Falling This Holiday Season

Falling gas prices have brought a little bit of holiday cheer at the gas pump where many in the region had grumbled while the price of unleaded hovered around the $4 mark.

The average price of unleaded regular has dropped to $3.75 a gallon in the Buffalo area, down from $3.89 a month ago, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks gas price trends across the country.  Nationally, the average price was down to $3.27 a gallon as of Saturday.

The downward trend can be attributed to two things, according to Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/business/sns-mct-gas-prices-falling-this-holiday-season-20121216,0,1755611.story

Americans Will Feel Paycheck Pinch As Payroll Tax Break Ends In January

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama isn’t talking about it and neither is Mitt Romney. But come January, 163 million workers can expect to feel the pinch of a big tax increase regardless of who wins the election.

A temporary reduction in Social Security payroll taxes is due to expire at the end of the year and hardly anyone in Washington is pushing to extend it. Neither Obama nor Romney has proposed an extension, and it probably wouldn’t get through Congress anyway, with lawmakers in both parties down on the idea.

Even Republicans who have sworn off tax increases have little appetite to prevent one that will cost a typical worker about $1,000 a year, and two-earner family with six-figure incomes as much as $4,500.

Why are so many politicians sour on continuing the payroll tax break?

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/10/social_security_tax.html

Target Steals Title Of ‘Cheapest’ From Wal-Mart

English: Logo of Target, US-based retail chain

English: Logo of Target, US-based retail chain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  There is a very good video to watch if you click on the link below.

For the first time since October, Target gas reclaimed the title  of  “cheapest” from its fellow big-box retailer, Bloomberg reported, and the gap was the biggest its been in the two years the difference has been tracked.

That’s especially important in today’s economy, as cheap is exactly what consumers are looking for.  High unemployment, coupled with rising gas and food prices, means customers are as cash-conscious as ever.  And while retail sales finally improved in July, that was one of the first good signs for the sector in months.

Both companies have thus been trying to lure in those penny-pinching customers with discounts and slashed prices. The key to Target’s success in the pricing department  came from the addition of groceries to many stores, which cut into Wal-Mart‘s advantage on food prices.  The company has also added discount incentives through its REDCard.

Read more: http://money.msn.com/top-stocks/post.aspx?post=84caede6-927a-488e-842c-322ae9654306

The Three Statistics That Every Downtown Should Live By

Editor’s note:  This is phenomenal advice for all downtown shopping districts and their umbrella organizations i.e. Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority.

Lancaster and its James Street Improvement District are prime examples of living by these three simple rules!  I suggest a field trip for any struggling downtown merchants or downtown organizations who want to see what is possible!

I call this the 7-8-7 rule because of the three most important statistics that make a downtown a successful and vibrant destination. Think of your favorite destination downtowns. Are they beautiful? Do they feel safe? Are there things to do after 6:00 pm?

Read more: http://www.rogerbrooks.org/2012/04/30/the-three-downtown-statistics/

Glum Econmic News For June

The economic recovery slowed down in June.  Consumer spending fell by .02 percent, which can be blamed in part on rising gas and food prices.  Workers saw incomes rise by only .01 percent, the smallest increase in nine months.  On a positive note, personal savings rose 5.4 percent.

Hiring in June was at the lowest level in nine months.  Only 18,000 net jobs were added and the unemployment rate rose to 9.2%.

Some economic forecasters are lowering their outlook for economic growth in the second half of the year from 2.5 percent to 2.0 percent.

Exxon Reaps Record Setting Profits For First Quarter

Container of Gasoline

Image via Wikipedia

This is a big part of the problem with the economy.  Companies like Exxon are profiting on the backs of our economic recovery.  High gas prices have increased the cost of most items and taken a huge chunk out of the average American’s discretionary income.  Discretionary income is what American’s have to spend after paying taxes and bills.  Less discretionary income means people shop less, eat out less, take fewer trips, and cut back overall to close the ever-widening gap caused by rising gasoline prices.

So Exxon comes along and announces they made almost $11 billion dollars in profits for the first quarter after we just learned that economic growth was stunted, in part, from high gas prices.  I am not advocating a departure from capitalism, however in light of the recent economic downturn; maybe these behemoth companies might make a little less profit so the economy can recover!

What I find hysterical is that Exxon officials know this news will “P-O” the public and are wondering how to “spin” the negative effects of their greed.  You deserve all the negative publicity you get!

It Could Be A Shoppers Market This Holiday Season

With the Christmas shopping season fast approaching, it appears that consumers may be in the driver’s seat this year.  Retailers are positioning themselves to offer deep discounts in an effort to lure recession-weary consumers into parting with their cash.

Economic jitters are making people hold on to their money and only spend on essentials.  Back-to-school sales were great for the first two weeks of September, but then sales trailed off after consumers felt they had spent enough.  This is a sign that people are holding on to their money and resisting the temptation to spend excessively.

We are looking at a 2 – 3 percent sales growth this season.  4 percent is considered healthy, if inflation is low.

Many people are sticking to necessities and practical gifts this year.  Wal-Mart is following that trend this season.

Look for big sales and deep discounts this holiday season!

Merry Recessmas.