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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Study Showing Area’s Shaky Economy No Surprise

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)

Frank Nemeth, of Wilkes-Barre, doesn’t need a study to tell him the region is in rough shape.

Nemeth works at the Main Street Trading Post, a pawn shop south of Public Square, and he said his job has exposed him to the harsh realities of the city’s economy.

“I don’t see any recovery happening,” he said.

Instead, Nemeth said he sees some of the same people everyday — sometimes two or three times — trying to sell their belongings to afford necessities like food and gas.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/1334175/Study-showing-areas-shaky-economy-no-surprise

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Economic Slowdown Widespread

INDICATOR: January Industrial Production and Import/Export Prices

KEY DATA: IP: -0.3%; Manufacturing: -0.8%/Imports: +0.1%; Nonfuel: +0.3%; Exports: +0.2%; Farm: -0.5%

IN A NUTSHELL: “The current economic slowdown, that hopefully can be blamed on the weather, is widespread.”

WHAT IT MEANS: January can be a cruel month and this year it is especially so. Job gains were mediocre, unemployment claims are above where we would like to see them, retail sales were pathetic and not surprisingly, manufacturers reacted by cutting back production sharply. Industrial production was off moderately in January but only because utilities had to produce massive amounts to heat our homes, offices and plants. Manufacturing output tanked as fifteen of the nineteen industry groups posted declines.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/economics_in_a_nutshell/Economic-slowdown-widespread.html#BofjoT0tjMWvuhFk.99

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U.S. Unemployment Falls To 7%

WASHINGTON - A fourth straight month of solid hiring cut the U.S. unemployment rate in November to a five-year low of 7 percent. The surprisingly robust job gain suggested that the economy may have begun to accelerate.

It also fueled speculation that the Federal Reserve will scale back its economic stimulus when it meets later this month.

Employers added 203,000 jobs last month after adding 200,000 in October, the Labor Department said Friday. November’s job gain helped lower the unemployment rate from 7.3 percent in October.

The economy has now generated a four-month average of 204,000 jobs from August through November. That’s up from 159,000 a month from April through July.

Good-Bye Ruby Tuesday?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Casual-dining restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday issued a press release last week meant to show investors that the company is taking steps to turn itself around, but what it told me is that theroad to recovery may be a long one.

Coming on the heels of worse-than-expected results for its fiscal first quarter and then the sudden resignations of the company’s chairman and a key vice president, plus a downgrade of its debt by Moody’s deeper into junk territory, the press release gave more details about the cost-cutting initiatives Ruby Tuesday is undertaking in attempts to right its ship.

In its efforts to cut $6 million from its selling, general and administrative costs beginning in 2015, the company is reviewing its cost structure. The first move will be the elimination of 50 jobs at its Maryville, Tenn., restaurant support center. Next, the restaurant chain will hire a consulting firm to help it cut cost of goods sold and other restaurant operating costs.

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/philly/story/good-bye-ruby-tuesday/12124084

Report: 25% Of NJ Struggling To Make Ends Meet

Trenton, New Jersey

Trenton, New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – A new report claims one-quarter of New Jerseyans are living in poverty.

The study released Sunday by the Legal Services of New Jersey Poverty Research Institute concludes that more than two million people in New Jersey are struggling to meet their basic needs.  Their numbers have increased since the beginning of the economic recession by more than 300,000.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20130908_ap_b7f29f63ccbe4989a7e751fe8f4d067d.html#MIgPiDRtQXohdeUL.99

Study Confirms Poverty Hits The Suburbs, Too

Say poverty in the Philadelphia area, and it conjures images of North Philadelphia or Kensington, not the suburbs.

But the suburbs on both sides of the Delaware River are becoming steadily poorer, part of a national trend that confounds long-held beliefs that life is always better in greener pastures beyond urban limits.

“People have this cliched notion of poverty being based in the inner city,” said Adele LaTourette, director of the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, which has offices in Trenton and North Jersey.  “But it’s been moving into suburbia for some time.

“No one wants to think that their neighbors are becoming poor.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20130520_Study_confirms_poverty_hits_the_suburbs__too.html#jtGAhiCISV3muuo1.99

U.S. Employers Add 165,000 Jobs; Rate Falls To 7.5 Percent

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added 165,000 jobs in April, and hiring was much stronger in the previous two months than the government first estimated.  The job increases helped reduce the unemployment rate from 7.6 percent to a four-year low of 7.5 percent.

The report today from the Labor Department was a reassuring sign that the U.S. job market is improving despite higher taxes and government spending cuts that took effect this year.

The government revised up its estimate of job gains in February and March by a combined 114,000.  It now says employers added 332,000 jobs in February and 138,000 in March.  The economy has created an average of 208,000 jobs a month from November through April — above the 138,000 added in the previous six months.

The number of unemployed fell 83,000 to 11.7 million.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=474934

The Real Fiscal Cliff: The 4.8 Million Long-Term Unemployed

Today’s alarming financial news is the rise in first-time unemployment claims to 385,000, up 28,000 and also above expectations.  The U.S. Labor Department report shows the labor market is weakening, not that it was anything resembling strong in the first place.  It makes me want to cry, because every piece of news like this makes me even more distraught about the future of the 4.8 million long-term unemployed.

I’ve covered unemployment issues or more than a decade and the future for those who are out of work beyond the normal six months funded by state benefits is very bleak.  These aren’t lazy bums, but desperate people who are financially and emotionally devastated by their situation.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/jobs/INQ_JobbingBlog_The-real-fiscal-cliff-The-millions-of-long-term-unemployed.html#ixzz2PVbVF6gR
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Lancaster County Jobless Rate Drops in February

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Lancaster County’s unemployment rate slipped to 6.8 percent in February, the state Department of Labor & Industry said Tuesday.

By declining slightly from January’s 6.9 percent, the county’s rate remained among the best in Pennsylvania.

Of the state’s 14 metropolitan areas, only State College (6.0 percent) and Lebanon (6.7 percent) had better unemployment rates.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre had the worst, at 9.8 percent.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/833506_County-jobless-rate-drops-in-Feb-.html#ixzz2PLlDgtjp

Jobs Returning To The Lehigh Valley, Slowly

Lehigh Valley workers were hit harder by the recession and recovered more slowly from the damage than those in many comparable urban areas.

That finding and a slew of others are included in the fifth annual State of the Lehigh Valley research study that was rolled out Thursday at Lehigh University by the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium and Renew Lehigh Valley.

Researchers Christopher Ruebeck and Jamila Bookwala, who led the presentation, ran down regional employment figures between 2006 and 2012, finding that the Lehigh Valley’s job market held its own prior to the recession, comparing favorably with similar metro areas, with the nation as a whole and with our neighbors in New Jersey.

But the Valley’s unemployment rate rose more than comparable metro areas during the Great Recession, and those jobs have come back more slowly than in many comparable areas or the state or nation as a whole.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-lehigh-valley-jobs-20130228,0,7642549.story

Confidence On Upswing, Mergers Make Comeback

The mega-merger is back.

For the corporate takeover business, the last half-decade was a fallow period.  Wall Street deal makers and chief executives, brought low by the global financial crisis, lacked the confidence to strike the audacious multibillion-dollar acquisitions that had defined previous market booms.

Cycles, however, turn, and in the opening weeks of 2013, merger activity has suddenly roared back to life.  On Thursday, Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate run by Warren E. Buffett, said it had teamed up with Brazilian investors to buy the ketchup maker H. J. Heinz for about $23 billion.  And American Airlines and US Airways agreed to merge in a deal valued at $11 billion.

Those transactions come a week after a planned $24 billion buyout of the computer company Dell by its founder, Michael S. Dell, and private equity backers.  And Liberty Global, the company controlled by the billionaire media magnate John C. Malone, struck a $16 billion deal to buy the British cable business Virgin Media.

Read more:  http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/confidence-on-upswing-mergers-make-comeback/?hp

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

Senate Leaders To Make Last-Ditch ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Effort

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and U.S. congressional leaders agreed on Friday to make a final effort to prevent the United States from going over the “fiscal cliff,” setting off intense bargaining over Americans’ tax rates as a New Year’s Eve deadline looms.

With only days left to avoid steep tax hikes and spending cuts that could cause a recession, two Senate veterans will try to forge a deal that has eluded the White House and Congress for months.

Obama said he was “modestly optimistic” an agreement could be found.  But neither side appeared to give much ground at a White House meeting of congressional leaders on Friday.

What they did agree on was to task Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, who heads the chamber’s Republican minority, with reaching a budget agreement by Sunday at the latest.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/sns-rt-us-usa-fiscalbre8a80wv-20121109,0,6642146.story

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

Lancaster County Budget Plan Splits Board

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

County property taxes would increase for the first time under the current county administration with a plan Commissioner Dennis Stuckey offered Wednesday.

His plan would increase taxes by about 9.3 percent and would include raises for employees of 2.75 percent, along with departmental cuts of about 2.75 percent.

For a home assessed at the county average of $148,000, a property owner would pay about $553, or about $48 more, next year. The millage rate would increase from 3.416 to 3.741 under Stuckey’s plan.

“I don’t throw this out or offer it up lightly,” he said. “It’s not something I particularly want to do or take pleasure in, but I feel like the best course of action is a little more even approach going in to next year, offering something to our employees … and trying to get some value that will assist us in protecting our cash reserve.”

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/787155_Lancaster-County-budget-plan-splits-board.html#ixzz2DeTerjYN

Study: Pennsylvania Income Gap Grew During The Last Decade

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PAPennsylvania‘s richest citizens pulled away from the state’s poorest during the go-go 1990s, and that trend continued as the bottom began to drop out of the economy, a new study concludes.

Between the late 1990s and early 2000s, the annual incomes of the richest fifth of state households grew by 7.2 percent, or $11,190, to $269,400 while the poorest fifth saw their average income fall nearly 8 percent, or $1,907, to $23,000.

Income inequality also grew between upper and middle-income families in the state. Middle-income families saw their earnings rise by just 1.9 percent between the late 1990s, compared to 7.2 percent for the richest fifth and 11.2 percent for the richest 5 percent of households, the study concluded.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-pa-income-disparity-20121116,0,7043436.story

Theaters, Playhouses Fear Financial Problems And Technical Demands Will Lower Their Curtains

At Oyster Mill Playhouse, the aging rooftop heating and air conditioning system is threatening to stage a death scene worthy of “King Lear.”

With audiences — and therefore revenues — down, there’s no money for a replacement, so managers of the not-for-profit community theater in East Pennsboro Twp. are hoping the community will donate about $25,000 to keep Oyster Mill going for another year.

“Like many other theaters, we are having our financial problems,” said Howard Hurwitz, vice president of the 91-seat theater’s board of directors. “This year has been kind of a bad year. We just haven’t been getting the attendance. We used to sell out on opening nights, but now we are lucky if we get the theater half-full.”

Oyster Mill is far from alone.

Read more:

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/11/oyster_mill_playhouse_theaters.html

Gas Prices Set A Record In California

This map shows the incorporated areas in Los A...

This map shows the incorporated areas in Los Angeles County, California. Torrance is highlighted in red. I created it in Inkscape using data from the Los Angeles County Website (Los Angeles County Incorporated Area and District Map (PDF). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

California’s average gasoline price set a record Saturday of $4.614 for a gallon of regular, up 12.8 cents overnight – but anyone who filled up in the last few days probably isn’t surprised.

Gasoline prices skyrocketed after the Exxon Mobile refinery in Torrance was knocked offline Monday by a power outage. Other lingering refinery and pipeline problems also contributed to the soaring costs at the pump.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/sns-la-fi-mo-gas-price-record-20121006,0,2206438.story

Unemployment Rate Up In NEPA; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Only Metro Area In State Above 9 Percent

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)

An increase in job-seekers and a decrease in jobs drove August’s residential unemployment rate in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area up two-tenths of a percentage point to 9.4 percent.

Read more:

http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/unemployment-rate-up-in-region-only-metro-in-state-above-9-percent-1.1381418