Mangled metal and crushed vehicles are all that remains at the blast site of the fertilizer facility in West, Texas.
By Erich Schwartzel Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gas growing fertilizer
A horrific explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer facility last week left 12 people dead and demolished dozens of homes in the small community. And though there aren't any facilities like the Texas one in the Pittsburgh region, experts say gas drilling in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale is poised to contribute to a booming fertilizer market.
That's because the growth of the $10 billion fertilizer industry is contingent on cheap natural gas that can be used in the facilities. Companies had been locating in overseas markets where natural gas was plentiful and nearby, but hydraulic fracturing has unlocked domestic reserves in the United States that could tip that balance, according to the Washington Post.
Some bright news in a tough week: The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania fell in March, dropping from 8.1 percent to 7.9 percent. The state was one of 11 nationwide that registered statistically significant drops in unemployment, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Friday.
The state's rate in March was still higher than the national average of 7.6 percent. But as the Post-Gazette's Ann Belser reported, the decrease is driven more by an overall drop in the labor force than in people finding work. While some 14,600 people started working, more than 31,000 dropped out of the labor force altogether.
Quote of the week
"I love how adaptable human beings are. We're scrappy little mammals. Any robot that wants to start something should think twice."
-- Daniel H. Wilson, author of the sci-fi epic "Robopocalypse," which is being adapted into a film to be directed by Steven Spielberg. Mr. Wilson was in town to speak at his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, for National Robotics Week.
Number of the week: 354
The average CEO made $12.3 million last year, while the average U.S. worker made $34,645 -- meaning those in the top job made an average of 354 times the amount earned by the everyday cubicle dweller. That pay gap is the widest in the world, according to a report released this week by the AFL-CIO.
The Post-Gazette's Patricia Sabatini broke it down: The average CEO had anything-but-average paychecks, making in six hours what it took the average employee all year to earn.