Study: One Fifth Of Luzerne County Workers Impacted By Minimum-Wage Hike

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — At first, it sounds like a good new, bad news sort of thing.

The good news: According to a new report, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would help 21 percent of the Luzerne County workforce get better pay.

The bad news: One fifth of Luzerne County workers earn below or near the proposed new minimum of $10.10 an hour.

The numbers come from “Living on the Edge: Where Very Low-wage Workers Live in Pennsylvania,” issued by the Keystone Research Center this week. As part of a push to get Harrisburg to consider increasing the minimum, rallies were held around the state Thursday, including one on Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1380548/Study:-Wage-hike-would-boost-fifth-of-area-workers

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Former Munhall Manager Charged With Embezzling $230K From Borough

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

Former Munhall borough manager Matt Galla was arrested Tuesday for allegedly embezzling more than $230,000 from the borough between 2010 and 2013.

Galla, 44, of West Mifflin, who was hired as a part-time clerk for the borough in 2009, became manager in December 2010 and had the position until he abruptly resigned last June.

According to court documents, Galla had a budgeted salary of $60,000. In the complaint, Detective William Miller wrote that Galla overpaid himself by nearly $12,000 in 2010, $85,000 in 2011, $80,000 in 2012 and $53,000 during the first six months of 2013.

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/5871094-74/galla-borough-payroll#ixzz2xg66dph8
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Half Of U.S. Seniors One ‘Shock’ Away From Poverty, Report Warns

NEW YORK  (TheStreet) — Are U.S. seniors “truly vulnerable” to spending their retirement in poverty?

That thought, almost unthinkable almost 15 years ago, is inching closer to reality, says a study from the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute.

Older African-Americans (63%) and Hispanics (70%) are especially vulnerable to spending their golden years in economic peril, the study says, with 48% of all U.S. seniors, or about 19.9 million Americans, “one bad economic shock away” from falling off a financial cliff after age 65 — a fall from which they may not recover.

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/philly/story/half-of-us-seniors-one-shock-away-from-poverty-report-warns/11947636

President Proposing Tax Hikes

WASHINGTON — Seeking an elusive middle ground, President Barack Obama is proposing a 2014 budget that embraces tax increases abhorred by Republicans as well as reductions, loathed by liberals, in the growth of Social Security and other benefit programs.

The plan, if ever enacted, could touch almost all Americans.  The rich would see tax increases, the poor and the elderly would get smaller annual increases in their benefits, and middle income taxpayers would slip into higher tax brackets despite Obama’s repeated vows not to add to the tax burden of the middle class.  His proposed changes, once phased in, would mean a cut in Social Security benefits of nearly $1,000 a year for an average 85-year-old, smaller cuts for younger retirees.

Obama proposed much the same without success to House Speaker John Boehner in December. The response Friday was dismissive from Republicans and hostile from liberals, labor and advocates for the elderly.

But the proposal aims to tackle worrisome deficits that are adding to the national debt and placing a long-term burden on the nation, prompting praise from independent deficit hawks.  Obama’s budget also proposes new spending for public works projects, pre-school education and for job and benefit assistance for veterans.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/national-news/412726/President-proposing-tax-hikes

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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Families In Berks County Now Must Learn To Manage A Tax Hike

The U.S. economy survived the plunge off the so-called fiscal cliff only to find itself in hot water.

A last-minute tax hike rescue by a reluctant Congress meant there was no room in the legislative lifeboat for addressing the debt-ceiling fix, spending cuts or the deficit.

An increase in wage taxes was ballast for the end of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.

The biggest hit to Berks County residents and small-business owners comes in the form of the 2 percent wage-tax hike, which translates to a cost of about $1,000 for the average family.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=441562

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

House Republicans Balk At Deal; Fiscal Cliff Coming

WASHINGTON — Last-minute efforts to step back from the “fiscal cliff” ran into trouble on Tuesday as Republicans in the House of Representatives balked at a deal that would prevent Washington from pushing the world’s biggest economy into a recession.

House Republicans complained that a bill passed by the Senate in a late-night show of unity to prevent a budget crisis contained tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans but no spending cuts.  Some conservatives sought to change the bill to add cuts.

That would set up a high-stakes showdown between the two chambers and risk a stinging rebuke from financial markets that are due to open in Asia in a few hours.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-fiscal-cliff-reuters-20130101,0,6257078.story

Progress Seen In Last-Minute ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Talks

English: President Barack Obama addresses a jo...

English: President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of the United States Congress in the chamber of the House of Representatives at the United States Capitol on 24 February 2009. Español: Presidente Barack Obama dando un discurose por una sesión conjunta del Congreso de los Estados Unidos en la cámara de la Cámara de Representantes en el Capitolio de los Estados Unidos, 24 de febrero de 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON — Working against a midnight deadline, negotiators for the White House and congressional Republicans in Congress narrowed their differences today on legislation to avert across-the-board tax increases.

Congressional officials familiar with talks between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said one major remaining sticking point was whether to postpone spending cuts that are scheduled to begin on Jan 1.

Republicans want to replace across-the-board reductions with targeted cuts elsewhere in the budget, and the White House and Democrats were resisting.

At the same time, Democrats said the two sides were closing in on an agreement over taxes.  They said the White House had proposed blocking an increase for most Americans, while letting rates rise for individuals with incomes of $400,000 a year and $450,000 for couples, a concession from President Barack Obama’s campaign call to set the levels at $200,000 and $250,000.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/Article.aspx?id=439707

More Expensive Gas Pushes US Consumer Prices Up

WASHINGTON (AP) – Higher gas costs drove up U.S. consumer prices in September for the second straight month.  Outside energy, there was little sign of inflation.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that the consumer price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent last month, matching the August increase.  In the past 12 months, prices have increased 2 percent.  That’s in line with the Federal Reserve’s inflation target.

Excluding volatile food and energy costs, prices rose just 0.1 percent.  In the past year, so-called core prices have increased 2 percent.

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/the-times-herald/story/more-expensive-gas-pushes-us-consumer-prices/1

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

Small Increase Likely In Social Security Benefits

Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...

Seal of the United States Social Security Administration. It appears on Social Security cards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON – Social Security recipients shouldn’t expect a big increase in monthly benefits come January.

Preliminary figures show the annual benefit boost will be between 1 percent and 2 percent, which would be among the lowest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. Monthly benefits for retired workers now average $1,237, meaning the typical retiree can expect a raise of between $12 and $24 a month.

The size of the increase will be made official Tuesday, when the government releases inflation figures for September. The announcement is unlikely to please a big group of voters – 56 million people get benefits – just three weeks before elections for president and Congress.

The cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is tied to a government measure of inflation adopted by Congress in the 1970s. It shows that consumer prices have gone up by less than 2 percent in the past year.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=421002

Pennsylvania Makes Magazine’s Top 10 As Tax-Friendly To Retirees

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allegheny County residents smarting from the sting of new property assessments may not agree, but Pennsylvania was just picked as one of the 10 most tax-friendly states for retirees.

The rankings by Kiplinger magazinecompared a variety of taxes including sales, income, retirement and inheritance taxes.

Local taxes were not a factor.

Pennsylvania ranked high overall primarily because the state largely avoids dipping into retirees’ nest eggs by not taxing Social Security benefits, public and private pensions, or distributions from IRAs and 401(k)s, said Rachel Sheedy, retirement editor for the personal finance publication.

The state’s high ranking from Kiplinger follows several other recent surveys that have pointed to the Pittsburgh region in particular as one of the most livable places for retirees.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/pa-makes-magazines-top-10-as-tax-friendly-to-retirees-652374/#ixzz25tLU1PE1

Social Security Worth Higher Tax, Most In Poll Say

Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...

Seal of the United States Social Security Administration. It appears on Social Security cards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON – Most Americans say go ahead and raise taxes if it will save Social Security benefits for future generations.  And raise the retirement age, if you have to.

Both options are preferable to cutting monthly benefits, even for people who are years away from applying for them.

Those are the findings of a new Associated Press-GfK poll on public attitudes toward the nation’s largest federal program.

Social Security is facing serious long-term financial problems.  When given a choice on how to fix them, 53 percent of adults said they would rather raise taxes than cut benefits for future generations, according to the poll.  Just 36 percent said they would cut benefits instead.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=411559

The Silver Tsunami: Retiring Baby Boomers

An excellent article from the Lansdale Reporter about what impact the gigantic retiring Baby Boomer generation will have on cities.

As a Baby Boomer, I found this very interesting reading.  Learning how cities are coping with increasing senior populations is important to me and I thought it might be to others as well.

To read the article, click here:

http://hosted2.ap.org/PALAP/d3444c3add384b05a39deb3258f13309/Article_2011-07-10-Aging%20America-Age-Friendly%20Cities/id-cc6478c041d742a7a6ef226c7c57db29

No COLA For Social Security Recipients In 2011

For the second consecutive year, the Social Security trustees have determined that a cost-of-living adjustment for social security recipients is not necessary as the cost of living has not increase enough to warrant a raise.  An official announcement is expected on Friday when the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics announces their inflation estimates.