Regional Housing Market Rebounds

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

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

Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors’ most recent HomExpert market report showed positive signs in the housing market for Chester County and the Greater Philadelphia region.

“We’re seeing an increase in sales and median and average sale prices, and we’re seeing a reduction in inventory and a significant reduction in days-on-market,” Prudential Fox and Roach Senior Vice President of Marketing Steve Storti said, “So, we’re seeing a market that is significantly improving, and we hope it continues.”

In April, 517 homes sold in Chester County, with a median price of $287,000.  The number sold was 15 percent higher than April 2012, and 64 percent more than April 2011.

In the first quarter of 2013, Greater Philadelphia saw a 7.8 percent home sales increase over the same quarter a year ago.  Chester County had 1,027 existing home sales during the quarter, up 6.8 percent over 2012.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130611/FINANCE01/130619868/regional-housing-market-rebounds#full_story

Report: NEPA Economy Is Turning Around

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)

The 2013 annual report by The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development indicates Northeastern Pennsylvania is showing signs of an economic turnaround.

The eighth annual Indicators Report, to be released and discussed at a forum Thursday at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, tracks the region’s performance on an array of categories, including demographics, public safety, jobs and the economy.

“The annual Indicators Report serves as a yardstick for measuring growth and trends in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Patrick Leahy, Wilkes University president and chairman of the institute, which is a partnership among Keystone College, King’s College, Luzerne County Community College, Marywood University, Misericordia University, Penn State Wilkes-Barre, The University of Scranton, and is owned and managed by Wilkes.

Reports covering more than 120 indicators for Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, as well as statewide data, will be discussed next week.  And reports from the institute’s five task forces also will be provided to show data on health and health care, jobs and the local economy, education, housing, transportation and land use.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/523150/Report-NEPA-economy-is-turning-around

PNC Forecasts Strong 2013 For Pittsburgh Region

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)

The Pittsburgh regional economy, which snapped back from the recession early but stalled in 2012, is poised to head higher again this year, according to forecasters at PNC Financial Services Group.

A reviving national economy will provide the oomph needed to reignite growth locally, PNC economist Kurt Rankin said in an interview.

The Pittsburgh region experienced above average growth in the first two years of the economic recovery in 2010 and 2011, but hit a lull the middle of last year.

Pittsburghers were more willing to spend coming out of the recession than consumers in many other regions because the local economy did not fall as far, but that willingness has been fully tapped, Mr. Rankin said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/pnc-forecasts-strong-2013-for-pittsburgh-region-679225/#ixzz2NYkffzC6

Pennsylvania: Life Is Good, Despite Some Concerns

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A majority of Pennsylvanians back the gun control measures endorsed by the White House, and nearly as many support the National Rifle Association proposal to put armed guards in schools.

On pocketbook matters, angst is growing.  A majority have a negative view of Pennsylvania’s economy, and satisfaction with family income fell 10 percentage points from last year, according to The Morning Call/Muhlenberg College 2013 Pennsylvania Quality of Life survey.

John Geist, a 62-year-old from South Whitehall Township, is a Pennsylvanian who falls into both categories.

Geist used to consider himself middle class, but he was laid off when his company outsourced and had to settle for another manufacturing job earning substantially less.  It was the second time in his life he’d lost his job through no fault of his own.

Read more:

http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-pa-quality-of-life-poll-guns-20130216,0,6655627.story

Pennsylvania Gasoline Tax May Soon Be Highest In U.S.

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gov. Tom Corbett struck a populist note in this week’s budget address, saying lifting the Oil Company Franchise Tax cap would force oil and gas companies to “pay their fair share.” But the increase will likely be passed onto consumers at the pump and may make Pennsylvania gasoline the most heavily taxed in the nation.

As levied now, the tax is about 9 percent of the price of a gallon of gas, but calculated on a maximum price of $1.25 per gallon, yielding about 20.3 cents. By gradually lifting that cap over time to reflect actual gas prices – already more than double the cap – the amount of the tax paid per gallon could more than double.

Gov. Corbett tried to soften the blow by cutting another state tax on fuel, the excise tax, from 12 cents down to 10 cents.

That could be cold comfort for consumers.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/pa-gasoline-tax-may-soon-be-highest-in-u-s-1.1441386

Mexico: The New China

3-D perspective image of the San Diego-Tijuana...

3-D perspective image of the San Diego-Tijuana area from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In November I quit my job as the editor of Wired to run 3D Robotics, the San Diego-based drone company I started with a partner as a side project three years ago.  We make autopilot technology and small aircraft — both planes and multirotor copters — that can fly by themselves.  The drones, which sell for a few hundred bucks, are for civilians: they don’t shoot anything but photographs and videos.  And they’re incredibly fun to build (which we do with the ample help of robots).  It wasn’t a hard decision to give up publishing for this.

But my company, like many manufacturers, is faced with a familiar challenge: its main competitors are Chinese companies that have the dual advantages of cheap labor and top-notch engineering.  So, naturally, when we were raising a round of investment financing last year, venture capitalists demanded a plausible explanation for how our little start-up could beat its Chinese rivals.  The answer was as much a surprise to the investors as it had been to me a few years earlier:  Mexico.  In particular, Tijuana.

Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/opinion/sunday/the-tijuana-connection-a-template-for-growth.html?_r=0

Abundance Of Attractions Makes Lancaster County Marketable

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Lancaster County, Kathleen Frankford contends, is no one-trick pony.

“It’s probably the most diverse destination in the country,” she said.

Sure, it is known for its Amish and the outlet shopping that attracts people by the busload.  But, there is also live entertainment, dining and lodging.

And, “within each of those categories, you have such a wide range of offerings,” Frankford said.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/807662_Abundance-of-attractions-makes-Lancaster-County-marketable.html#ixzz2JEbUTqMC

Voters Saddle Governor Corbett With Dismal Midterm Grade

Standard of the Governor of Pennsylvania http:...

Standard of the Governor of Pennsylvania http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us-pa.html#gov (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since a 1968 constitutional revision allowed Pennsylvania governors to seek a second term, every one of them has, and all five have been successful.

Gov. Tom Corbett has said he intends to keep the two-term tradition alive, but poll numbers released last week underscore the possibility that he could break that winning streak.

A Public Policy Polling survey noted that voters gave him some of the lowest approval numbers of any incumbent the organization has tested across the country.  Although his decision to sue the National Collegiate Athletic Association over the draconian sanctions it imposed on Penn State University has proved popular with the state’s voters (despite widespread condemnation by editorial boards), the support for his legal decision has not translated to a boost in his personal popularity.  According to the archives of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll, his midterm job performance numbers were the lowest approval of any recent Pennsylvania governor.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/voters-saddle-gov-corbett-with-dismal-midterm-grade-670203/#ixzz2Huxy3OZJ

Lancaster County Jobless Rate Improved Slightly

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

The jobless rate in Lancaster County fell in November to 6.6 percent, the state announced Thursday.

By declining from October’s 6.7 percent, the local jobless rate decreased for the first time since April.

“It’s a slow go,” said Bill Sholly, an analyst with the state Department of Labor & Industry.

Sholly explained that employers typically are cautious about rebuilding their work forces after a recession.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/799290_Jobless-rate-here-improved-slightly.html#ixzz2GxQXClVI

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

‘Eds And Meds’ Still Growing In Pittsburgh Region

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

The Pittsburgh region’s 21st-century economy has often been referred to as one where manufacturing has been displaced by the “eds and meds” sector, but there remain pockets where local residents still lean heavily on the more traditional means of employment.

In nine Allegheny County municipalities, more than twice as many residents are employed in manufacturing as is the case in the county overall, according to new census data. Many of the communities are in the Route 28/Allegheny Valley corridor, where many light manufacturing firms operate — some of them growing and thriving.

The occupational information was just one nugget in a bounty of new American Community Survey data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The data are based on a survey of the national population over a five-year span, from 2007-11, with the government deeming the sample size sufficient to release estimates for wide-ranging characteristics of every municipality.

While Allegheny County and the surrounding region once served as a manufacturing center for the nation, only 8.3 percent of the county’s workforce was employed in manufacturing in the modern era, the ACS data said.  That was down from 9 percent in the 2000 census and was less than the 10.8 percent for the nation as a whole.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/eds-and-meds-still-growing-in-pittsburgh-region-665151/#ixzz2EJ4ATXbo

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

Vignettes Of Black Friday

With promotions, discounts and doorbusters already well under way on Thanksgiving Day itself, many big-box retailers are making Black Friday stretch longer than ever.  The Lede is checking out the mood of American consumers in occasional vignettes Thursday and Friday as the economically critical holiday shopping season kicks off.

Shoppers waiting outside Sam’s Club in Eagan, Minn., for Friday’s 7 a.m. opening clung to free Starbuck’s Holiday Blend coffee as they endured freezing temperatures and biting winds and collected brightly colored vouchers for laptops and big-screen TVs.

The biggest draw: a 96-cent Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone.  Once inside, they also beelined for tickets for the 63 Samsungs in stock, which sold out shortly after the store opened.  Customers could make an appointment for later in the day or another day to purchase the phone, choosing from three carriers, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint.

“O.K., this is my last blue for Sprint,” an employee called out at 7:08 a.m.

Read more:  http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/coverage-of-black-friday/?hp

Buy Fresh Buy Local Gaining Traction In Lancaster County

“Fresh” and “local” are buzzwords used by marketers to promote everything from organic produce to fast-food sandwiches.

But the Buy Fresh Buy Local network is distinct from Madison Avenue marketing. It is a grass roots movement aimed at encouraging consumers and businesses to buy foods grown and produced in their immediate regions.

Linda Aleci is the chair of the Buy Fresh Buy Local steering committee in Lancaster County. The network’s state coordinator is the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and its national coordinator is the FoodRoutes Network.

Aleci is an associate professor at Franklin & Marshall College and an affiliated scholar with the college’s Local Economy Center.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/777744_Buy-Fresh-Buy-Local-gaining-traction.html#ixzz2D43yHYKM

U.S. May Soon Become World’s Top Oil Producer

English: basic map of USA

English: basic map of USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NEW YORK — U.S. oil output is surging so fast that the United States could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest producer.

Driven by high prices and new drilling methods, U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons is on track to rise 7 percent this year to an average of 10.9 million barrels per day. This will be the fourth straight year of crude increases and the biggest single-year gain since 1951.

The boom has surprised even the experts.

“Five years ago, if I or anyone had predicted today’s production growth, people would have thought we were crazy,” says Jim Burkhard, head of oil markets research at IHS CERA, an energy consulting firm.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121023/NEWS04/121029786/u-s-may-soon-become-world-s-top-oil-producer&pager=full_story

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

Pittsburgh Region Sees 11th Consecutive Month Of Home Sales Increases

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)

The number of homes sold last month in the Pittsburgh area and their total value rose compared with August 2011, marking the 11th consecutive month of increases, according to data released today by local real estate information service RealSTATs.

“This comes off of seven years of consecutive decline,” RealSTATs vice president Daniel Murrer said.  “It’s significant.  We’re in the first year of positive growth in eight years.”

RealSTATs compiles the data from Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

The total dollar volume of home sales in August in the region was $478 million, up 11 percent from nearly $431 million a year earlier.

Census Shows Continued Economic Suffering From Recession

Map of the 21 counties of the State of New Jersey

Map of the 21 counties of the State of New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The typical New Jersey household’s income dropped again last year, the fifth consecutive decline, according to new data released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Not surprisingly, as incomes fell, the ranks of the poor rose.

“The latest federal statistics show there are more people in our state struggling in poverty than during any period in half a century,” says Melville D. Miller Jr., president of Legal Services of New Jersey. “That can cripple the development of our children and our state’s economic and social future.”

The latest Census estimates put the median household income in the state at $67,458. When adjusted for inflation, that was 3.4 percent less than in 2010 and 8.1 percent less than in 2008, the first full year of the recent recession. It’s also less than the actual, unadjusted, median incomes for the prior three years and only slightly above 2007’s actual median income of $67,035 — $72,666 in 2011 inflation-adjusted dollars.

Read more: http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/12/09/20//

Rural Food Banks Struggle To Meet Need

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Greene County

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

Like the people they help, food pantries throughout southwestern Pennsylvania are struggling — and in some cases, failing — to make ends meet as skimpy federal food supplies, a tighter state budget, higher food prices and more needy clients strain resources.

Food banks around the region are reducing the number of fruits and vegetables they distribute, trimming or even eliminating expensive protein sources such as eggs and peanut butter from the boxes given to their clients, and in some cases, must consider scaling back their operations.

In Greene County, for instance, board members of the Waynesburg-based food bank, The Corner Cupboard, were spared Monday from slashing their food box distribution from monthly to bimonthly only after a last-minute $10,000 donation from natural gas drilling company EQT, according to board member John Jenkins.

“I don’t want to tell people we don’t have food for them, my God, but there’s just nothing we can do right now,” Mr. Jenkins said. “We’ve robbed Peter to pay Paul to try to stay afloat as it is.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/rural-food-banks-struggle-to-meet-need-653436/#ixzz26bApTVGG