Ups and Downs

DOWN to a dip in joblessness that doesn’t seem to be translating into new jobs. Employers remain a bit reluctant to add new workers to their payrolls, despite a rise in the average number of hours per work week.

UP to the acquisition of FreeMarkets Inc. by California-based Ariba Inc. Officials from both companies pledge to retain a substantial presence in Pittsburgh.

DOWN to reports that Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp. won’t use the brand new 180,000-square-foot building built in Munhall for production of its fuel cells after all. The company does say, however, that it will continue to work on the technology at its existing facility in Churchill, where it will invest $2 million in upgrades.

UP to a report by PNC Financial Services Group that it will grow profits by 10 percent to 12 percent over the next two to five years.

DOWN to a planned two-thirds cut for a federal program that offers practical help and advice to small and medium-sized manufacturers. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership aids manufacturing businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

UP to a surge in new home construction in the Pittsburgh region in 2003. The increase was modest over 2002’s numbers, but builders and industry analysts say it’s a good sign that the local market has turned the corner.

UP to Baptist Homes of Western Pennsylvania’s plans to build a $100 million retirement community in Scott Township.