The Journal Gazette
Saturday, May 01, 2021 1:00 am


US Steel canceling $1.5 billion project

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U.S. Steel Corp. said Friday that it is canceling a $1.5  billion project to bring a state-of-the-art improvement to its Mon Valley Works operations in western Pennsylvania, saying the world has changed in the two years since it announced its intentions.

Project permits initially stalled by the pandemic never came through, U.S. Steel has added capacity elsewhere, and now it says it must shift its focus to its goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from its facilities by 2050.

U.S. Steel revealed the news in an earnings call Friday morning and in an “open letter” on social media, putting an end to what would have been one of the largest industrial investments in Pennsylvania. It said it will shut down batteries 1, 2 and 3 at its Clairton Plant by early 2023 – representing approximately 17% of coke production at the plant – to help reduce polluting emissions from equipment long criticized as among the area's worst polluters.

U.S. Steel said it is still committed to steelmaking in western Pennsylvania.

Consumer spending rises in March

U.S. consumer spending rose at the fastest pace in nine months while incomes soared by a record amount in March, reflecting billions of dollars in government support payments aimed at putting the country firmly on the road to recovery.

Consumer spending rose 4.2% in March, the Commerce Department said Friday, the best showing since a 6.5% spending increase in June. Spending had fallen 1% in February as frigid winter weather disrupted sales.

Incomes surged by a record-breaking 21.1% in March after having fallen 7% in February.

The big gain reflected delivery of billions of dollars in relief payments, with individuals getting up to $1,400 payments from the $1.9 trillion support package President Joe Biden pushed through Congress in March.

Wages, benefits grow in quarter

Wages and benefits grew quickly for U.S. workers in the first three months of the year, a sign that businesses are starting to offer higher pay to fill newly opened jobs.

U.S. workers' total compensation rose 0.9% in the January-to-March quarter, the largest gain in more than 13 years, the Labor Department said Friday. That's up from 0.7% in the final three months of last year. 

The solid rise comes after weaker increases during the pandemic, when the unemployment rate initially shot to nearly 15% before declining steadily to 6% in March. As a result, workers' pay and benefits rose just 2.6% in the year ending in March, down from 2.8% a year earlier.

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