Federal government strife
Differences over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act led members of Congress to shut down the U.S. government, creating hardship for thousands of federal government workers and headaches for millions of Americans. Economists are uncertain of the long-term impact on the economy in terms of overall consumer and business confidence. But most agree that a quick resolution would be better -- especially as the country is on the verge of hitting its debt ceiling Oct. 17.
Affordable health care overload
People without health insurance got their first chance to go online and comparison shop for policies that are partially subsidized by the federal government. But on the first day that state and federally operated health insurance marketplaces were open for business, callers complained of long telephone wait times and many of the websites crashed from high demand. By the end of the day, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service, which operates the marketplace websites and call centers, said more than 2.8 million people had visited the website.
Take that to the bank
Data released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. confirmed PNC Bank's dominating presence in the Pittsburgh region. The FDIC reports that PNC has a 49.9 percent share of all retail deposits in this region. Rhode Island-based Citizens Bank retained its No. 2 spot, but trails far behind with a 7.6 percent share of deposits, followed by FNB in Hermitage at 4.1 percent, and Pittsburgh-based Dollar Bank at 3.8 percent.
Hope for the holidays
The National Retail Federation estimates consumers are likely to spend $602.1 billion this holiday season, which would mean sales growth of about 3.9 percent over last holiday season. But consumers could get jittery and cut back if the federal government stays in shutdown mode too long and if Congress cannot reach a swift agreement on raising the national debt ceiling.
Unemployment rate increased
The jobless rate for the seven-county Pittsburgh metropolitan area rose to 6.8 percent from 6.7 percent in August after declining steadily for the past six months. The national unemployment rate actually saw a slight decline in August, falling to 7.3 percent from 7.4 percent. Pennsylvania as a whole experienced an unemployment rate increase to 7.7 percent from 7.5 percent in August. The national unemployment rate for September, which was supposed to be released Friday, was delayed by -- you guessed it -- the partial government shutdown.
Tim Grant: email@example.com or 412-263-1591.