Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Troops to Tractors connects military veterans to farm careers

Greensburg, PA—January 15, 2013 The Westmoreland Conservation District announces the launch of Troops to Tractors. They are seeking military veterans who wish to transition to a second career in agriculture.
Westmoreland Conservation District’s Troops to Tractors seeks honorably discharged veterans to connect them with successful farms and agribusinesses in southwestern PA. Veterans seeking on-the-farm employment, apprenticeships, or internships can get connected to resources to locate farms or agricultural operations that welcome the skills and dedication that veterans bring to the work environment.
Did you grow up on a farm and long to return to the rural way of life? Or, are you seeking a second career where you can use your skills and working outside in a fulfilling and challenging environment?
If so, this program is for you. Troops to Tractors is accepting inquiries from veterans with or without farming experience who have a genuine interest in the original “green job.”
If you are a 20% or more disabled veteran or have GI Bill benefits, you may be able to access stipend programs in connection with your transition into farming. For those already on the road to farm ownership, Troops to Tractors staff can point you in the right direction for educational and financial resources.
Said Jim Wolfe of the PA Department of Education, Division of Veterans & Military Education, about Troops to Tractors, “If a veteran called last week and told me he wanted to be a farmer, I would have been at a loss as to how to help…now I know where to send him.”
Westmoreland County, PA, 45 minutes east of Pittsburgh, is home to many acres of breathtaking farmland. If owning and working an agricultural operation is in your future once you leave active duty, the Troops to Tractors program can also connect you to resources connecting farmers seeking buyers so that farmland can stay productive. 
For more information, please contact Mimi at 724-837-5271, ext. 211 or via email at mimi@wcdpa.com

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Unemployment in Pennsylvania rises

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania rose above the national rate in December, according to figures released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Pennsylvania's unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, slightly above the state's November unemployment rate of 7.8 percent and the national unemployment rate of 7.8 percent for December.
The unemployment rate in the state is higher than it was in December 2011, when the seasonally adjusted rate was 7.7 percent and unemployment was waning from its post-recessionary high of 8.7 percent. The state unemployment rate ultimately fell to 7.4 percent in March and April 2011, but has risen since then and has been hovering around 8 percent.
In April 2007, well before the Great Recession started in December of that year, unemployment in Pennsylvania was 4.2 percent.
The unemployment rate did not hit 5 percent until April 2008.
Comparing December 2007, when the Great Recession began, to December 2012, three and a half years after the official end of the recession, shows that while the state's civilian labor force grew by 179,000, the number of people who were working was still down by 46,000.
In December, the state also lost nonfarm jobs. A blunt count of jobs, without the smoothing of spikes that is done with seasonal adjustment, found that employers cut 24,800 jobs from November to December. Seasonal adjustment of those numbers, however, provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Friday, brought it down to 4,800 jobs lost.
Goods-producing industries added jobs overall with 700 new jobs in mining and logging and 4,400 construction jobs. Mining and logging jobs were up by 3,300 from December 2011, but construction was down from the previous year by 7,700 jobs. Manufacturing, which was up by 5,500 over December 2011, lost 1,100 jobs from November to December 2012.
In the service-providing sector, the state lost 8,800 jobs during the month, but was up by 37,600 jobs from the same time in 2011.
Trade transportation and utilities lost 5,500 jobs from November to December; leisure and hospitality cut 5,100 jobs from month to month; and financial activities lost 1,800 jobs during that time. Those three sectors all increased jobs in a year-over-year comparison by 9,100, 15,000 and 3,800, respectively.
Education and health services, however, which added 3,700 jobs in December from November, was down by 1,800 jobs compared to December 2011.
Government added 1,500 jobs during the month, but was down by 200 jobs in a year-over-year comparison.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Slight drop in Pittsburgh region's jobless rate

 Unemployment in the seven-county Pittsburgh region declined one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.2 percent in November, the state Department of Labor and Industry announced Thursday.
The area covered by the report -- Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties -- had a combined seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate that was lower than the state's rate of 7.8 percent or the national rate of 7.7 percent in November.
The unemployment rate, which is based on a survey of households, showed the regional labor force grew by 1,000, with 2,900 more people reporting they had jobs in November than in October even as 2,000 fewer reported being unemployed. Those numbers should add up, but were slightly askew due to rounding.
A second survey, which polls employers, showed the region gained a total of 4,500 jobs, including 1,000 in the government sector that had seen big losses in previous months. The numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
In the public sector, the federal government cut 200 jobs during the month while the state government added 500, bringing that sector even with its employment levels of November 2011.
PG graphic: Regional jobless rate 7.2%
(Click image for larger version)
Local municipalities cut 100 jobs in November, but the public schools added 800 jobs in November. Since last year, there are 2,300 fewer positions in local municipalities with 800 fewer jobs in the public schools.
Retail trade added 4,700 jobs in November as part of the seasonal employment boost caused by the run up to the holidays. That was 700 more jobs than the same time last year.
Financial services also added jobs, 1,000 over the month and 4,000 since November 2011.
Education and health services added 1,600 during November but the sector was down 800 jobs from November 2011. The loss can be explained in part by cuts to social service agencies, which eliminated 100 jobs during November and a total of 1,200 jobs since November 2011.
In addition, colleges and universities have cut 900 jobs since last November, though they did add 300 jobs during November 2012. Hospitals added 100 jobs during the month and 400 over the prior 12 months. Physicians offices also added 100 jobs in November and 500 from a year ago.
While the service sector added 5,100 jobs, goods producers were cutting back. Construction companies cut 400 jobs in November and are down by 2,200 from last year. Manufacturing cut 300 jobs, with 400 jobs lost in durable goods but 100 jobs added in non-durable goods in November. Overall the manufacturing sector is up by 900 jobs from last year.
Leisure and hospitality employers cut 3,700 jobs during the month, with 1,300 jobs lost at bars and restaurants. Overall the sector is still up from the same month last year with 3,300 more jobs.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Joblessness in W.Pa. rises to 7.1%, but more at work

By Thomas Olson Pittsburgh Tribune Review

The Pittsburgh region reached near-record employment in June, but its unemployment rate increased to 7.1 percent anyway, the state said in a report issued Tuesday.
The seven-county jobless rate was 0.3 of a percentage point higher than May’s rate of 6.8 percent — the largest increase since February 2010, according to the state Center for Workforce Information & Analysis, based on a monthly survey of residents.

At the same time, employers in the region added 12,600 jobs in June, and 15,400 since June 2011. That brought the Pittsburgh region’s job count to 1,160,800, the highest level since February 2001, when it was a record 1,163,300, said the agency, citing a survey of employers.

“Employment went up, but the labor force went up even faster,” said Matthew Marlin, an economics professor at Duquesne University. The labor force, composed of those working or looking for work, jumped by 9,000 since May, and by 24,200 since June 2011.

“The report tells me more people are optimistic and went out to look for a job,” Marlin said. “A number of discouraged workers apparently became encouraged workers.”

The region had 89,200 unemployed residents last month, which was 4,600 more than in May.
The seven-county region consists of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Monday, July 30, 2012

New High-Rise in Downtown Pittsburgh Means Jobs, Revitalization

The followeing is a guest submission by Mike Mikus, Director, Consumer Energy Alliance Mid-Atlantic

As the driver of the Keystone State natural gas boom, the energy industry has continuously pumped life into the Pittsburgh region’s economy and job market. With the recent announcement that Oxford Development plans to build a multi-million dollar high-rise downtown, the Marcellus Shale industry once again promises to be a valuable and vital contributor to the city’s revitalization efforts.

Developers are eager to build projects, such as this “350 fifth” tower – located on the block between Fifth and Forbes Avenue – as the availability of desirable office space in downtown Pittsburgh continues to wane. Securing a long-term lease with a large company – particularly with a key player in the Marcellus Shale industry – is a major key to the development’s success, and big name energy companies, such as Chevron and Shell, are rumored to be targets. Landing a big anchor to occupy a sizable chunk of the space would allow the project to move forward.

By rejuvenating the vast, yet mostly vacant building that will be “350 fifth” – the proposed $238 million skyscraper – with much-needed and valuable retail space, the project will prove to be a positive for both Pittsburgh residents and the overall downtown area, alike. According to Oxford Development, the project is expected to create hundreds of jobs, including 450 construction jobs and 2,500 permanent jobs, if the plan is approved as is.

However, as city officials are looking to encourage a renaissance of development downtown – beginning with the proposed new high-rise – the drilling ban that’s currently in place threatens to scare off such sought-after tenants. Along with local industries, Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl has expressed concerns over the negative effect the drilling ban has on the desire to relocate within city limits.

With so much at stake for the city, policymakers should reconsider the ban on drilling that could cost our city sizeable investments, hundreds of jobs and significant economic development opportunities and growth. Pittsburgh cannot afford to lose out on the impact this development will have on the local economy, job market and widespread revitalization efforts.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Business-led program for students with disabilities cited for high job-placement rate

PITTSBURGH, July 27, 2012 – The UPMC Mercy Project SEARCH program, which helps high school students with disabilities become valued employees in meaningful competitive jobs, received an Employment Outcome Award for its class of 2010-11 at the 6th International Project SEARCH Conference held in Austin, Texas, July 24-27.  Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania implements the program which was cited for achieving a job-placement rate of more than 60 percent. It was one of more than 70 Project SEARCH programs across the country that received Employment Outcome Awards.

            The Project SEARCH High School Transition Program is a unique, business- led, one year school-to-work program for students with disabilities, grade 12 or higher, who have completed their high school academic requirements, but have deferred taking a diploma that takes place entirely at the workplace. Hosted at UPMC Mercy and UPMC Passavant Hospitals, the program has helped over 30 Allegheny County students obtain employment.
            “Project SEARCH changes lives and Goodwill is proud to be an integral part of this outstanding program.  We congratulate the Project SEARCH staff, teams, and students of UPMC Mercy Project SEARCH on this award,” said Holly Opatick, Director of Transition Services at Goodwill.  The cornerstone of the program is total immersion in the organization, with students reporting to the host business, learning employability skills and marketable job skills, while participating in three job-training rotations during the school year.

            “In addition, Project SEARCH brings about positive cultural change within the work site organization by overcoming stereotypes and helping employees to see students with disabilities as unique individuals who can make real contributions to the organization and the greater community.”

Since its inception in 1996, Project SEARCH has grown from one original program site at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to over 200 across the United States and Canada, England, Scotland, and Australia. Project SEARCH's primary objective is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities.

UPMC Project SEARCH Partners: UPMC, the County of Allegheny Department of Human Services Office of Intellectual Disability (OID), Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pittsburgh region's jobless rate holds steady

The unemployment rate in the seven-county Pittsburgh region held steady in May at 6.8 percent, the same rate recorded in March and April, the state Department of Labor and Industry reported today.

The labor climate locally continued to outperform the state and the nation as a whole, with the May jobless rate at 7.4 percent in Pennsylvania and 8.2 percent nationwide.
In May a year ago, the jobless rate in the Pittsburgh region was 7.3 percent.

After smoothing out seasonal spikes in hiring, the labor department reported nonfarm jobs in the region fell by 2,500 last month, the second straight monthly decline.

Unadjusted figures showed employers in the region added 7,800 jobs in May as the goods-producing sector gained 1,500 positions and the service sector added 6,300.
Among goods-producing industries, construction added 1,800 jobs, the smallest May increase since 2006. Compared to May 2011, construction jobs were off by 4,100.

Manufacturing jobs fell by 400 in May following three months of gains.

In the service sector, which showed the weakest bump up in May since 2005, professional and business services posted a strong gain of 1,600 jobs while education and health services lost 5,000.

Leisure and hospitality added 6,100 jobs and local government gained 1,200. But federal and state government trimmed 1,100 jobs.

Among the seven counties in the region, Butler had the lowest jobless rate in May at 6.1 percent and Fayette had the highest at 8.6 percent.

Across Pennsylvania, unemployment rates ranged from 5.5 percent in Centre County to 10.5 percent in Cameron County.