Pittsburgh-Area Employers Added 22,300 Jobs In April

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunny Kourkoutis spent six months on unemployment and a couple more working in a job she hated before she found something that suited her restaurant experience.

“When I was on unemployment, I could have easily gotten a job as a server,” said Kourkoutis, 42, of Bridgeville. “But at my age, it’s not something I really saw myself doing.”

In April, Kourkoutis finally found a job she enjoyed. She was hired as reservations manager at Jacksons Restaurant in Cecil and since was promoted to assistant executive manager. In so doing, she joined a hospitality industry that added 8,100 jobs last month and has led growth in the local economy.

Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh region added 22,300 nonfarm jobs in April, and the unemployment rate declined two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.6 percent, according to preliminary figures released on Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The decline occurred as 3,900 more people began looking for work, an expression of confidence in Pittsburgh’s economy.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6188520-74/22300-added-april#ixzz338k1vjC0
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Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Last In Beating Recession

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the race to climb out of recession, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area is dead last among the 100 largest urban areas nationwide.

That is the finding in a recent “Metro Monitor” study by The Brookings Institution that tracked the economic performance of 100 metropolitan areas on four indicators: jobs, unemployment, output (gross product) and house prices. The analysis focused on the change of the indicators during three time periods: the recession, recovery and a combination of both.

During the recovery period, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre ranked 100, or last, trailing Little Rock, Ark., (99) and Greater Hartford, Conn. (98).

“In terms of recovery, it has been pretty slow” for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, said Siddharth Kulkarni, a research assistant in Brooking’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/scranton-w-b-last-in-beating-recession-1.1667766

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Pew Report: Philadelphia’s Middle Class Is Shrinking

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Philadelphia middle class, a backbone of economic vitality that once made up the majority of residents in most of the city’s neighborhoods, has declined in steep numbers since 1970, from 59 percent to 42 percent by 2010, according to a report released Monday, the first of its kind.

The precipitous decline of adults within this long-celebrated class occurred widely across the city and most sharply before 2000, sparing only chunks of Far Northeast Philadelphia and Roxborough and smaller pockets elsewhere. Those areas remained majority middle-class as of a few years ago, said the Pew Charitable Trusts, which spearheaded the study.

The data capture what has been sensed and dreaded by policymakers for years: Philadelphia is decidedly poorer than when it was a manufacturing powerhouse, losing even a greater share of higher-taxpaying middle-class residents than the nation as a whole, and failing even to see increases in its upper-class population to match other cities that fared better.

Whether middle-class Philadelphians fell into a lower-income class, moved into the suburbs, or died is not shown by Pew’s analysis, as researchers have found such detailed tracking to be elusive.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140225_New_Pew_report_shows_city_s_middle-class_shrinking.html#GakidtL6rbcd5xYK.99

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Prospect Of Jobs Draws Thousands To Camden Site

Map of New Jersey highlighting Camden County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Camden County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The news that a company coming to Camden would be accepting applications for as many as 1,000 positions brought double that number of people to a job fair whose organizers combined it with a political rally Monday afternoon.

Amir Khan, a Camden mayoral candidate, hosted the ribbon-cutting for Acts Industries L.L.C., a maker of modular temporary housing units that is leasing a former factory building at East State Street and River Avenue.

Khan, who said he has no financial stake in the company, said he was a friend of Acts owner Irv Richter, who is also chairman and chief executive of the Evesham-based construction management company Hill International.

Khan, who last year failed in a bid to open a charter school catering to suburban children, said he persuaded the businessman to locate Acts, a subsidiary of AlphaGen International, in Camden instead of Mississippi.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20131015_Prospect_of_jobs_draws_thousands_to_Camden_site.html#rzHGfjxPUWvGmlOb.99

Armstrong World Industries To Invest $41 Million In Lancaster Plant, Will Lead To 57 New Jobs At Facility

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Armstrong World Industries said Thursday it will invest $41 million in its Lancaster floor plant, so it can make luxury vinyl tile there.

Adding production of the residential and commercial vinyl tile will lead to 57 new jobs at the 160-employee facility, the company said.

Armstrong will start constructing the new lines inside the current Dillerville Road plant in the first quarter of 2014.

Shipping of luxury vinyl tile from the 600,000-square-foot city plant is set to begin in mid-2015.

Armstrong now has its luxury vinyl tile made for it by a manufacturer in China.

Shifting that production here will enable the company to serve its North American customers faster and less expensively.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/904464_Armstrong-World-Industries-to-invest–41-million-in-Lancaster-plant–will-lead-to-57-new-jobs-at-facility.html#ixzz2hRRxQSUC

Signs Of Declining Economic Security Widespread

President Barack Obama announces the Economic ...

President Barack Obama announces the Economic Recovery Advisory Board. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON — Four out of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor and loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

The findings come as President Barack Obama tries to renew his administration’s emphasis on the economy, saying in recent speeches that his highest priority is to “rebuild ladders of opportunity” and reverse income inequality.

Hardship is particularly on the rise among whites, based on several measures.  Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987.  In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy “poor.”

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/news/710055/Signs-of-declining-economic-security-widespread

Stripped-Down Harley Rebounds From Recession

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some motorcycle enthusiasts feared Keith Wandell might be the outsider who drove Harley-Davidson into the ground.  Instead, he may be remembered as the guy who kept the motorcycle maker on the road.

Wandell grabbed the handlebars at the motorcycle maker in the heart of the economic crisis in 2009.  Harley lost $55 million that year, as buying a motorcycle stopped being an option for many consumers.

“We had to make, quickly, some big, bold, decisions,” he said in a recent interview.

Wandell was the first CEO from outside Harley, so those decisions were watched closely.  Not all were well-received.  He got the union’s approval to use temporary workers, which enabled Harley to time its production closer to the peak bike-buying season, saving time and money.  He relied less on middle-aged men in the U.S. to buy the bikes.  And he focused the company on doing what many say it does best: making big, powerful, premium-priced Harleys.  But that meant getting rid of some popular secondary brands.

The company made $624 million last year, the best annual profit since 2008.  It also boosted profit by 30 percent in this year’s first quarter, compared to the same period in 2012.  With lower costs and more efficient production, analysts say Harley is in a good position to grow as the global economy improves and in better shape to weather any future downturn.

Read more:  http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_23421255/stripped-down-harley-rebounds-from-recession

U.S. Manufacturing Down In November

Manufacturing in the U.S. unexpectedly contracted in November as orders dropped to a three-month low and exports slowed.

The Institute for Supply Management‘s factory index decreased to 49.5, the lowest since July 2009, from 51.7 a month earlier, the Tempe, Arizona-based group said today.  Economists projected the index would ease to 51.4, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey.  A reading of 50 marks the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

Less corporate investment in equipment as U.S. lawmakers debate the nation’s budget, weaker orders from overseas and disturbances related to the biggest Atlantic storm in history are converging to slow manufacturing.  Eleven of the 18 industries covered in the report reported business shrank last month.

“Manufacturing has slowed down,” Joshua Dennerlein, an economist at Bank of America Corp. in New York, said before the report.  “Manufacturers have to prepare for demand down the road, and they’re not actually sure what it’s going to be.”

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-allentown-manufacturing-october-20121203,0,334772.story

At Caterpillar, Pressing Labor While Business Booms

JOLIET, Ill. — When it comes to dealing with labor unions,Caterpillar has long taken a stance as tough as the bulldozers and backhoes that have burnished its global reputation.  Be it two-tier wage scales or higher worker contributions for health insurance, the company has been a leader in devising new ways to cut labor costs, with other manufacturers often imitating its strategies.

Now, in what has become a test case in American labor relations, Caterpillar is trying to pioneer new territory, seeking steep concessions from its workers even when business is booming.

Despite earning a record $4.9 billion profit last year and projecting even better results for 2012, the company is insisting on a six-year wage freeze and a pension freeze for most of the 780 production workers at its factory here.  Caterpillar says it needs to keep its labor costs down to ensure its future competitiveness.

The company’s stance has angered the workers, who went on strike 12 weeks ago.  “Considering the offer they gave us, it’s a strike we had to have,” said Albert Williams, a 19-year Caterpillar employee, as he picketed in 99-degree heat outside the plant, which makes hydraulic parts and systems essential for much of the company’s earth-moving machinery.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/business/profitable-caterpillar-pushes-workers-for-steep-cuts.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hpw

Former Bethlehem Steel Property To Idle

 

BETHLEHEM STEEL PLANT AT SPARROWS POINT - NARA...

BETHLEHEM STEEL PLANT AT SPARROWS POINT – NARA – 546882 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The owner of the financially ailing Sparrows Point steel plant is idling operations there, warning 1,975 workers Thursday that they would be laid off starting next month.

The news, which casts doubt on the future of the Baltimore County facility that was once owned by Bethlehem Steel, came as RG Steel is shopping the steel mill and its other assets to potential buyers.

RG Steel informed the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations that layoffs would begin June 4 and continue through June 18. The state said the company would be laying off 1,714 hourly and 261 salaried workers, losses that would be a significant blow to the economy.

For years, the plant has faced uncertainty before last-minute deals salvaged the mill. RG Steel is the latest owner to try to sustain steel production at the once-flourishing facility.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-allentown-sparrows-point-idle-20120525,0,7750660.story

Neapco Moving Headquarters To Michigan – Today’s Mercury Coverage

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

According to a write up in today’s Pottstown Mercury, Neapco is now moving their corporate headquarters to Michigan.  A Neapco VP says this will have a minimal impact on what’s left here in Pottstown.  Still very sad.

Then, as one reads along, a bomb is dropped.  The article is talking about how manufacturing was consolidated in Beatrice, Nebraska and how the state of Nebraska gave Neapco a $1 million dollar loan.  The expansion of production facilities in Nebraska created 70 jobs. (how nice for Nebraska)

The next paragraph made me absolutely sick.  The same VP, Keith Sanford, goes on to say “no financial incentives to consolidate the company’s manufacturing in Pottstown were offered by any organization in Montgomery County or the borough.”  90 jobs were eliminated in Pottstown as a direct result.  Nebraska offered Neapco financial incentives to move our jobs out of Pottstown!

Well isn’t that just special!  If somebody would have called Harrisburg there is money for these types of things.  Ed Rendell, when not busy yelling at Leslie Stahl, has gotten involved with numerous other communities to keep jobs in PA! 

Considering that jobs are hard to come by in Pottstown, other than fast food and retail, we should have at least tried to offer them something.  It sounds like they might have been receptive.

We have a Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) in this town with one business in it (that I am aware of).  I bet Harrisburg would have come up with money to expand on Queen Street OR build Neapco a new modern facility in our KOZ, which offers tax incentives to businesses!  

We could have kept our 90 jobs and added more jobs.  Instead, Nebraska added 70 more jobs and we lost 90!

Keystone Opportunity Zones are such a breakthrough idea that Business Facilities magazine calls them “the number one economic development strategy in the nation.” By eliminating specific state and local taxes within specific underdeveloped and underutilized areas, communities within Pennsylvania are experiencing economic growth and investment.  

Here is a link to the website where the above quote is from:

http://www.newpa.com/build-your-business/locate/keystone-opportunity-zones