Vacations are great, but it is good to be back! While I was away, European leaders met to take what they hoped was decisive action to stem rising borrowing costs for Spain.
And once again borrowing costs in Spain were on the rise Monday (paywall). With the Spanish economy once again shrinking, European leaders are giving the country more time to reduce its budget deficit but are still insisting on spending reductions in the face of a shrinking economy.
An increasing share of small business owners in Pennsylvania and the nation are immigrants, according to a new report from the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative.
The report breaks new ground by using Census data (including the results of a previously unpublished Survey of Business Owners) to study people who own an incorporated business and whose main job is to run that business.
Counting two late votes, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 103 to 91 in favor of House Bill 2191, a measure that raises the cap on the annual interest rate for payday loans to 369%. There was bipartisan opposition to the bill with 19 Republicans joining Democrats to vote against the measure. Support for the measure was also bipartisan with 17 Democrats joining Republicans voting in favor.
UPDATE: House Bill 2191 was not voted upon as expected on Tuesday.
The Pennsylvania House will vote today on one of the most surprisingly controversial bills of the session, a plan to legalize predatory payday lending in Pennsylvania. House Bill 2191, sponsored by Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester County), will allow payday loans to carry rates of more than 300% annually – more than 12 times the current legal limit.
As I mentioned this morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that the national unemployment rate increased slightly in May to 8.2%, while non-farm payrolls increased by just 69,000 jobs. The report was disappointing, especially since the economy added 226,000 jobs a month in the first quarter of 2012.
On Friday, we got a disappointing jobs report for May in which unemployment ticked up slightly and non-farm payroll growth came in below 100,000 jobs. The volatility of the numbers may reflect unseasonably warm winter weather rather than a fundamental slowdown in the economy. That said, the economy continues to grow at a pace too slow to bring down the unemployment rate quickly.
The Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Maria Panaritis has a biting commentary today on the impact of economic austerity on Pennsylvania schools.