Latest Pennsylvania business


Pennsylvania jobless rate rose slightly in March

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's unemployment rate rose in March for the third straight month, as the number of jobs declined and the ranks of job-seekers increased.

The state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday the 5.3 percent rate was up from 5.2 percent in February, when payrolls hit a record high that offset the last of the job losses from the recession. The national rate for March was 5.5 percent.

A survey of households showed the state's labor force, the number of people working or looking for work, expanded by 2,000 to nearly 6.4 million people. However, unemployment grew, while employment shrank.

In a separate survey of employers, payrolls fell by nearly 13,000 jobs, wiping out February's gains.

The largest decreases were in education and health services. Construction showed the biggest gain.


Hearings slated on unions' complaints on convention center

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A labor relations hearing examiner has reversed his decision to throw out complaints by two unions banned from working at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia and plans to hold hearings on the issue.

Hearing examiner Jack Marino had earlier dismissed complaints by the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters and Teamsters Local 107 that the two unions had been improperly banned from the center in May.

The center's management has blamed former work rules for chasing larger events away from the facility.

Union leaders hailed the new decision, but John McNichol, president and CEO of the Convention Center Authority, called it "troubling," saying that to his knowledge no new evidence had been introduced. He said reversal of recent changes at the center could lead to "a catastrophic loss of bookings."


Demolition work begins on famed record company building

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Demolition work has begun at the fire-damaged former headquarters of the famed recording company that created what came to be called "The Sound of Philadelphia."

The Philadelphia International Records building is being torn down to make way for a 47-story hotel-luxury condominium complex. Adjacent buildings were torn down earlier.

Producers Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell are credited with having created the lush acoustics of 1960s and '70s R&B and soul music that came to be known as the Sound of Philadelphia, working with artists such as Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle and Lou Rawls.

The offices were heavily damaged in 2010 by an arson fire. The building then primarily served as the company's licensing arm, though it hosted tour groups and had a small gift shop.


Officials in Pa. town want shuttered concert venue reopened

Officials in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains want to bring a shuttered performing arts center back to life, seeing potential in a 12-year-old venue built with $15 million in state tax money that critics have long regarded as a mismanaged white elephant.

The Mountain Laurel Center for the Performing Arts in Pike County struggled almost immediately after opening in 2003 and last hosted a performance nearly three years ago. A 2007 state audit blasted three governors for failing to exercise oversight over the venue's construction and management.

Elected officials in Lehman Township say they want to see the dormant venue hosting concerts again. They plan to reach out to the Philadelphia-area real estate developers who now own the property, and are working on a tax abatement program as an incentive.


Family wins back seized gold coins that could be worth $80M

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia family has been awarded the rights to 10 rare gold coins possibly worth $80 million or more after a U.S. appeals court overturned a jury verdict.

U.S. Department of the Treasury officials insist the $20 Double Eagles were stolen from the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia before the 1933 series was melted down when the country went off the gold standard.

Prosecutors say Joan Langbord and her sons cannot lawfully own the coins she says she found in a family bank deposit box in 2003. A jury in 2012 agreed.

But the appeals court ruling Friday returns the coins to the Langbords because U.S. officials didn't respond in time to the family's claim for the seized property.

A Treasury spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the ruling.