Economy & Business

90.5 WESA explores the regional economy, as well as covering the issues that ordinary Pittsburghers face in their working lives.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Charday Richardson doesn’t have the choice to work from home: She’s a medical assistant in a dermatology practice that sees over 40 patients a day.

Courtesy Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

In 1982, Gail Robbins was a social worker in need of a job, when a friend and former co-worker suggested she seek work part-time at Pittsburgh’s fledgling community food bank.


The latest coronavirus relief bill included $7 billion to expand broadband internet access, and Pennsylvania is expected to get $850 million of the money, according to Gov. Tom Wolf’s office.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Enrollment in public assistance programs in Pennsylvania continues to climb due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, though state human service officials say federal unemployment aid and other programs have kept even more people from falling into poverty.

As Restrictions Lift, Reopened PA Businesses Cast A Wary Eye Towards The Future

Jan 5, 2021
Emma Lee / WHYY

Three weeks of COVID-19 business closures in Pennsylvania lifted on Monday, restoring indoor activity in restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues. Some businesses welcomed the return, while others have their eyes set on a more distant future — whenever “normal” returns.

90.5 WESA

On today's program: A Pittsburgh bartender shares her experience working through the pandemic and two shutdowns; Major League Baseball is officially recognizing Negro League players—including from two Pittsburgh teams—as major leaguers; and a UPMC nurse says the surge in cases is overwhelming the nursing staff.


The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania is recruiting volunteer tax preparers for its annual upcoming free tax preparation effort.

Volunteers help low-income families and individuals complete their tax returns, ensuring that everyone receives the full refunds they are entitled to.

No prior tax experience is necessary, and volunteers receive IRS training.

Unemployment Benefits And One-Time Checks: What To Know About The New Stimulus In PA

Dec 29, 2020
Emma Lee / WHYY

Most taxpayers are set to receive a one-time payment of $600 and several unemployment programs will be restarted now that President Donald Trump has signed the second coronavirus stimulus bill.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

For anyone having trouble paying their mortgage due to coronavirus-related circumstances, an important deadline to ask for help has been extended.

Wolf Seeks $145M Fund Shift To Help Businesses With Pandemic

Dec 23, 2020
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday proposed spending $145 million in a worker's compensation fund to help businesses cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

On today's program: The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is seeing food insecurity peak in the pandemic, as it celebrates 40 years of service; NPR Morning Edition host David Greene leaves the network this month and reflects on what he might do next; and a Pittsburgh native is one of 18 astronauts involved in NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to put humans on the moon again. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell for a seventh straight month in November, dipping below the national rate, as payrolls continued to rebound from pandemic-driven shutdowns, according to state figures released Friday.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

A hospitality workers’ union says Pittsburgh’s landmark Omni William Penn Hotel improperly used a federal pandemic-relief program meant to keep workers on the payroll.


Pittsburgher Criseena Johnson is one of millions of people who will lose her unemployment benefits in a matter of days, without Congressional action.

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

A group of 38 states filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google on Thursday, alleging that the search giant has an illegal monopoly over the online search market that hurts consumers and advertisers.

The lawsuit, announced by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. by states represented by bipartisan attorneys general.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: The principal investigators behind one of the first pilot programs for guaranteed basic income explains what they’ve learned so far, now that a similar project is coming to Pittsburgh; and a daughter reflects on how she honored her mother’s memory in lieu of a traditional Catholic mass during the pandemic.


A recent survey shows a decline in consumer confidence in southwestern Pennsylvania -- particularly how residents feel about their employment, personal finances, and spending plans -- as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Matt Rourke / AP

On today's program: After Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement, two local restaurant workers explain why new COVID-19 restrictions mean more Pennsylvanians will struggle to stay afloat, and another stimulus/relief package is needed; and with the Electoral College convening today, veteran political reporter John Micek describes what’s at stake for Republicans who don’t fall in line with the president’s calls to reject election results.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Driven by the pandemic and related restrictions, and public health concerns, employment in Pittsburgh’s restaurant industry has declined by more than 31,000 workers compared to this time last year, according to research released last week.

Uber, Hard-Hit By Pandemic, Sells Its Robot-Vehicle Division

Dec 7, 2020
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Uber is selling off its autonomous vehicles development arm as the ride-hailing company slims down after its revenues were pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic.


Every month, there’s a rough week and a half period for Jennifer Eber and her daughter, when they have exhausted their monthly food stamp benefits.

Lisa Rathk / AP

State officials have disbursed more than $7 million to Pennsylvania dairy farmers to help them cover COVID-19-related financial losses.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: The gender pay gap is worse for Black women in Pittsburgh, which is a problem the city’s Gender Equity Commission is trying to correct; and a law for conservatorship was enacted to reduce blight, but two reporters explain why it may be misused.

Michael Dwyer / AP

Black Friday, the traditional kick off to the holiday shopping season, will feature fewer “doorbuster” early morning sales at big box retailers this year, according to one consumer expert.

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

The rate of unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic among Latino and Native American workers in Pennsylvania was twice that of white and Asian workers, as of mid-October. They were even higher for Black workers, according to a new report by economists at Penn State.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Bastian Harris is one of many people in Pennsylvania who qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – but they have struggled to get any money.

Jamie Martines / Spotlight PA

A significant number of Pennsylvania municipalities are considering applying for a state program for the severely financially distressed, while those already in the program appear to be weathering the coronavirus pandemic better than expected.

PA Dept. Of Labor Shows Small Employment Gains In October

Nov 20, 2020
Steven Senne / AP

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry reports the state’s unemployment rate fell down 1% in October to 7.3%.

Kiley Koscinski / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: Distribution of $150 million in statewide rent relief lags, despite being sorely needed; The Trump campaign is challenging thousands of provisional ballots; and the University of Pittsburgh acquired August Wilson’s archive, opening the door to the playwright’s life for researchers. 

Feds Reject PA's Plans To Spend Up To $300M In Stimulus Money For School Property Tax Relief

Nov 16, 2020
Kalim Bhatti / The Philadelphia Inquirer

For more than a decade, state lawmakers have sent yearly payments to Pennsylvania’s school districts so they can lower residents' property tax bills.