Economy & Business

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


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.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

A statewide rental assistance program meant to aid both landlords and tenants struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic still has more than $130 million left unspent, according to numbers released last week.

Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Starting Monday, many Pennsylvanians could be vulnerable to utility shutoffs when a coronavirus-related moratorium that has been in place since mid-March will end.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Food insecurity has increased by more than 40 percent in southwestern Pennsylvania, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, according to one new estimate.

Gene J. Puskar / AP


On today's program: The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board approved a proposal to waive liquor license fees to provide financial relief to restaurants and bars hit hard by the pandemic; researchers try to take down disinformation using science and technology; and how Donald Trump’s and Joe Biden’s differences on environmental and energy policies could affect Pennsylvania.

Courtesy of York County Food Bank

More than one-third of respondents in a recent WESA/Campos survey said their financial health has changed for the worse due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People without a bachelor’s degree were more likely to say their finances were worse off than those with a degree, and Black survey respondents were more likely than whites to say their finances are now worse.

Alanna Elder / WITF

President Donald Trump told a crowd outside Lititz on Monday that if re-elected, his administration would continue to preserve manufacturing and industry in Pennsylvania.

Courtesy of Scalo Solar Solutions, LLC

Trains still carry coal past the now-abandoned Mathies Mine, located on the Monongahela River in Washington County. Metal fencing blocks the mine entrance, a cave-like opening where hundreds of miners once trod miles of tunnels.

Emma Lee / WHYY

The COVID-19 pandemic has lead to the loss of up to 15,600 child care spots in Allegheny County, and could push parents of young children out of the workforce if those losses become permanent, according to a new report.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Attorneys and volunteer tenant advocates are visiting dozens of district courts in Allegheny County to make sure renters are aware of their rights and what assistance is available to them – and their landlords – to keep them housed during the pandemic.

Pennsylvania Sees Another Big Monthly Drop In Jobless Rate

Oct 16, 2020
Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate began to look like the rest of the nation's in September, taking another steep drop from its post-pandemic high as the labor force and payrolls grew, according to state figures released Friday.

Commonwealth Media Services

Gov. Tom Wolf is renewing his call for state lawmakers to legalize recreational marijuana.

Tim Tai / Philadelphia Inquirer

After Pennsylvania lawmakers failed for months to fix a troubled rent relief program, Gov. Tom Wolf intervened Tuesday, giving landlords flexibility to collect outstanding balances in the hope that more would agree to participate.


Even before President Donald Trump received the drug remdesivir to help treat his case of COVID-19, Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella was raising alarms about the price of the medication.

Eric Risberg / AP

The rate of uninsured children jumped last year by the biggest annual increase in more than 10 years, according to a report released Friday.

Ben Allen / WITF

State Police troopers have completed a record-number of instant background checks for gun purchases or license to carry permits applications in the third quarter, between July 1 and September 30.

'Pandemic Entrepreneurs' Create A Surge Of New Businesses Nationally And In PA

Oct 1, 2020
Emma Lee / WHYY

When Derwood Selby found out in March he had lost his job as a food and beverage supervisor at the Marriott Hotel in Old City, his first reaction was relief: He was burned out, and had been itching to move on to something else.

Williamsport-Based Shop-Vac Blames 400+ Layoffs On COVID-19. Workers Say That's Not True

Sep 29, 2020
Provided by Candice Gair

Shop-Vac Corp., a brand that is to wet-dry vacuums what Kleenex is to tissues or Band-Aid is to adhesive bandages, is shutting its doors after 53 years. Based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the company began laying off its staff of 427 on Sept. 15.

In termination letters, the company blamed COVID-19 and a buyer who “without warning walked away from the deal.”

Those familiar with Shop-Vac’s finances say the pandemic is being used to justify the rapid liquidation of a company that employed some workers for decades.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Businesses are starting to recover from pandemic-related layoffs and economic activity, according to a new survey from PNC. One hundred fifty small and mid-size Pennsylvania business owners and executives responded to the survey.

New PUA Payments Paused In PA Due To Uptick In Suspicious Claims

Sep 22, 2020
Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania is suspending payments for new claims to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, known by its acronym PUA, while the state deals with a spike in suspected fraudulent claims.

Pennsylvania Sees Big Drop In Jobless Rate In August

Sep 18, 2020

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate took a steep drop in August as the labor force shrank and payrolls shot up again in a continuing rebound from shutdowns and the worst economic effects of the pandemic, according to state figures released Friday.